Warning: May contain spoilers
This inspiring Spanish/Colombian thriller falls into place neatly aligned with the other greats of the genre, and is easily comparable to Julia’s Eyes, The Orphanage and The Devil’s Backbone. With its mysterious narrative and luxurious cinematography, it is an excellent example of how Spanish cinema is really standing at the top of the game in the current market.
My advice for first viewing this film is to go into it blindly. Do not read about it, do not check out its reviews and most of all DO NOT watch the trailer. The film is heavily let down by its marketing. This is a film that relies profoundly upon ignorance to the plot twists in order to fully captivate its audience. Unfortunately the trailer’s clumsy edit destroys both the mystery and tension the film so expertly exploits otherwise.
The unraveling of this narrative is conveyed using the structure of a film in two halves. This dramatic irony, also displayed in The Orphanage, is extremely effective within the genre. The film uses the second half of the plot to retell the first in a brilliant innovative light. However, using a structure like this is often difficult; During the first half of the film you are left unsure of the characters and their motives, as actions are left unexplained, leaving you struggling to connect fully with any of them for the opening thirty minutes. It is Belen‘s introduction into the film that we see a turning point of both the plot and the empathy of the characters for the viewer. Played by Clara Lago, Belen is delightful and bright eyed, and impossible not to adore, meaning she both connects with her audience and then tugs agonisingly at the heart strings later in the story.
The movie is extremely subtle, hinting at the supernatural without exposing the realistic events immediately, keeping you guessing on a broader scale throughout. The rational plot-line is extremely refreshing and this film doesn't disappoint with a poor second half, much like that of many recent Western horror films released over the past few years.Release Date: 20th May 2013Age Rating: 15Format: DVDRunning Time: 90 MinsAmazon Price (as of 14/5/13): £9.00 (DVD)
Reviewed by Lisha Blackhurstwww.lishablackhurst.com
While piggybacking on the ideas of others may frowned upon in many aspects of our culture, in the case of the entertainment industry it’s fair to say that film, music and other creative outlets would not exist without the majority standing on the shoulders of a few. But while this approach can provide us with some great works it also leads to a lot of poor quality imitators. Unfortunately Crawlspace, the feature debut of director Justin Dix, falls into this latter category.
The premise of Crawlspace should be familiar to anyone who’s seen a Sci-Fi film in the past fifty years; a group of Australian Special Forces soldiers are sent in to infiltrate Pine Gap, a top secret underground research facility that appears to have been compromised, and rescue the military scientists who are trapped in the base. Once inside the team, led by Romeo (Ditch Davey), encounter Eve (Amber Clayton), a young woman with surgical trauma and no memory of how she found herself at the base. Realising that the base has been overrun by disturbed patients from the facility’s research centre the team attempts to escape, but as they make their way through the narrow corridors it becomes apparent that something much more sinister is afoot deep beneath the Australian desert.
Try as you may, it’s almost impossible to ignore the blatant similarities between this and other more successful films. Borrowing heavily from the likes of Aliens (the Special Force squad have a motion tracker!) and Event Horizon, Crawlspace ends up feeling more like a fan made film than a piece that stands alone on its own merits. The cast easily slip into the typical stereotypes that tend to inhabit this type of film (shouty, overly macho soldier, arrogant scientist), which makes it hard to care when they are eventually picked off, and only Romeo and Eve are given the faintest glimmer of character development. Combined with the kind of dialogue that would be more at home in a video game and suspect camerawork, it’s easy to tell that Crawlspace is the full directorial debut of someone whose previous experience lies in the field of makeup and special effects.
This fact is made even harder to swallow given that, if you can see past the flaws, there are some decent ideas and element trying to make it to the surface. The makeup and creature effects are both understated and excellent (understandable given Dix’s previous experience), and at times the story showed flashes of a much more engaging narrative. But for every good moment there were two plot holes or narrative dead ends ready to trip the story up, and twice as many missed opportunities that to tightened things up. Without giving too much away the ‘powers’ of the facility’s captives could have been used in much more interesting ways, and for a film set primarily in the air conditioning ducts of an underground facility there was never the sense of claustrophobia needed to increase the tension.
The mostly unknown cast does their best with an unforgiving script, but in the end Crawlspace feels exactly like what it is - a first attempt by a director still figuring out what works for him. If you can ignore the plot holes and other assorted silliness then there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half, but there are probably more entertaining options available.
Release Date: Out Now (currently not on amazon however from our records this title came out in january)
Age Rating: 18
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Normally I get excited about watching a British horror film, Brit horror seems to always be stronger than our American cousins, however after watching THE FACILITY I was left disappointed and if I am honest a little bored.
THE FACILITY is set within the confines of Limebrook medical research facility in the middle of no-where that is doing a clinical trial on seven willing subjects. The seven subjects are injected with a new drug called Pro9, a drug which begins to have an aggressive reaction leading to a fight for survival as one by one the subjects begin to turn on one another.
I found THE FACILITY wanted to be something more than what it was. The idea behind it is an interesting one and it could even open the viewers mind to what these test could potentially end up being like, however it dragged....ALOT. We spend the first 20 minutes watching each subject getting injected before anything even remotely interesting happens. Once we start getting into interesting territory it very quickly turns boring. I was waiting t see more of the subjects going crazy but we only really see them from a distance. This was no doubt what was meant to be but I just found it boring and a huge let down, especially once we make it to the end.
The acting was so so, we have a handful of pretty much unknowns here aside from Alex Reid who you may recognize from THE DESCENT but most of the actors and actresses were lacking any major excitement or talent (sorry if that sounds harsh)
This may be up someone else's street but THE FACILITY just didn't do it for me.
Release Date: 6h May 2013
Age Rating: 18
R.R.P: £12.99 (DVD)
As some of the regular readers of Snakebite Horror will know I have a huge soft spot for the Slasher film Sub-Genre of horror. SCREAM (or to be really honest SCREAM 2) is the film that got me back into horror films in my teen years. Films like HALLOWEEN, CHILD'S PLAY and THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET are what makes me love the Genre as an adult. The idea of an unkillable monster killing stupid American teenagers always kept me cheering for the bad guys. More modern day Slasher films don't really play towards the cheese factor of films gone past but the levels of blood and gore take over.
Personally I love the films of years gone past, I find modern day slashers over rated, so when I saw this DVD being pushed I was over the moon and was looking forward to reliving, and maybe even experiencing, horror films I have loved and could fall in love with. I mean look at how great the video nasties documentary was! I would happily go out and re-live the films that were showcased but alas this isn't the case this time round. SLICE AND DICE is less history of the Slasher film and more of past actors, directors and producers tell us their favourite things about the Genre in specially titled sections. This ruined the documentary a little for me. I wanted no holds barred history of Slasher, which I admit you get a little of, but it was mostly a “this is my favourite” production that got a bit boring the longer it went on.
The selection of speakers were an an okay bunch but nothing really to cheer about, and the actual filming of the documentary looked a little sloppy at times with audio I found a struggle to hear when certain people were talking.
However from a disappointing first disk to a surprisingly entertaining bonus documentary which was miles better than the main attraction that took a look at backwoods horror called 'DON'T GO IN THE BACKWOODS'. A well filmed documentary which actually was a history of the Backwoods Sub-Genre looking at films like THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE HILLS HAVE EYES and films of that nature.
The other extras you get on these disks include trailers of the original films, a Q&A and a footage from selected premieres.
Overall the documentary was a let down, with the second documentary being the highlight of the two disk set. I would wait for this to go down in price if I was totally honest and buy the Video Nasties documentary instead
Release Date: 13th May 2013
Age Rating: 18
R.R.P: £10.00 (DVD)
Seems to happen more and more nowadays, I finish a film and say to myself (and everyone else around me who will be bothered to listen) “what the fuck did I just watch. Sometimes it's a bad thing, sometimes it's good thing but then you get a film which falls into nether category. LORDS OF SALEM falls into the third one. It just made no sense, and once you think it is beginning too it turns even more trippy.
So the plot goes like this, a alternative rock station host receives a record in a wooden box from a group called The Lords. When she plays the record she comes under a trance, seeing hallucinations of faceless beings and even having a hallucination of being forced to suck a priests cock (not sure how much this adds to the overall story to be fair but hey ho). But the really crazy stuff starts as she is drawn to an apartment in her building. Her landlady and her two strange friends also begin to form an unhealthy attachment to her. Elsewhere a guest from Heidi’s show (name) starts to dig into the history behind the band, now known as The Lords Of Salem, finding that they are linked to a coven of witches from Salem who have a curse placed upon the descendants of the Witchhunter who burnt them alive.
Lets not go into much more detail, it is one of these films that you really need to watch yourself to get a better idea of what it all ends up being about (even if it makes sod all sense). Acting wise I can't fault this film in anyway, Sherry Moon Zombie buts on one hell of a performance, being a strong female lead who isn't all innocent and teenage, and I found that, unlike her roles in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and the HALLOWEEN remakes, she comes across more gentle.
Sherry Moon is also supported by some other great actors and actresses, with stand out performances from Dee Wallace, who you may recognize from ET or CRITTERS and her other two witch pals played by Judy Geeson (TO SIR WITH LOVE, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED) and Patricia Quinn ( THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, SHOCK TREATMENT).
The film in general was a little out there at times and came across very arthouse like, which some horror fans won't get on with very well however the fact that this does have a 70's horror feel to it, and the fact you can tell Rob Zombie has taken a lot from the iconic horror directors of that time, goes to show that he is a dedicated master of the art of horror.
This isn't a terrible film, it is well acted and has some interesting points in it, however I couldn't tell you if I enjoyed it or not. This is an odd one you see as I have enjoyed Zombie's previous films and it does have a Rob Zombie feel but I do feel it is missing something that the previous films had.
This one will divide audiences. Some will love it, some will hate it and there will be a few like myself who will be left undecided.
Release Date: Out Now
Age Rating: 18
Even after watching this film I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a parody/spoof or a straight-up action-horror flick. I’m still trying to figure it out, now, and I really shouldn’t give this film that much contemplation.
It’s 1944, and deep in the forests of occupied Poland, the Nazis are trying to raise a demon army to help them win the war. They’re sacrificing virgins and performing occult rituals, using the blood of the virgins to summon demons into the bodies of volunteer soldiers, with the aim of making them into indestructible super-soldiers. The US army sends in four of its best soldiers to extract an Allied spy from within the Nazis’ occult stronghold and foil their plans for WORLD DOMINATION. And what a quartet of heroes we have. Caricatures and overly-patriotic knuckleheads chomping cigars and growling their dialogue through tough-guy grimaces.
They parachute into Poland and hilarity ensues.
This film seems like someone has watched the first ten minutes of ‘Hellboy’ and decided to camp it up into a Carry-On film. ‘Devils of War’ can’t seem to make up its mind what kind of movie it is; some moments of the film are deadly serious, whereas others are ridiculously over the top and trashy, like an old grindhouse movie. There’re boobs, blood, violence, bad accents, bad acting and bad dialogue. A lot of bad. Achingly bad. Too much bad. The action scenes are funny, although I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or not. Every soldier in the film seems to be a ridiculously poor shot, even though they’re supposed to be elite warriors. Never mind; I don’t think military accuracy was their aim (pun intended).
But there are some redeeming features. Despite its flaws it’s actually worth a watch just for a giggle. Maybe ‘Devils of War’ is best viewed with a bunch of mates and many, many beers. Or on your own with a crack pipe. It’s up to you.
In my humble opinion, the director should have just played it completely for laughs, and if he had done, the film would have certainly benefited.
Release Date: Out Now
Age Rating: 15
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Amazon Price (as of 26/4/13): £8.50 (DVD) £10.25
The Bigfoot Tapes, also known as ‘Bigfoot County’ is one of many films released recently that features the large, hairy and mysterious one; and like most of them it’s ultimately a disappointing and fractured movie populated by cardboard characters and illogical events. It’s a shame, as it could have been so much more. It’s not a terrible film, but it is bland and vaguely boring. Generic, even.
There’s not much originality there, either, but that could be forgiven if other facets of the film were more interesting and made sense, but sadly they do not, and that is ultimately what ensures that ‘The Bigfoot Tapes’ is nothing more than cheap horror fodder without imagination or inspiration.
So, two men and a woman venture into the woods to search for a fabled creature. Sound familiar? Of course it does. But first, they enlist the help of a religious nut-job whose pet dog was ripped in half by Bigfoot, apparently. And then there’s the ‘shaky-cam’ style of filming, which should really be outlawed as a crime against cinema. But this is a low budget film, so I can forgive such indiscretions, just about. Unfortunately that isn’t the worst aspect of the film, and eventually it gets to the point where the protagonists are just stumbling around the woods yelling and moaning because they’re lost and their religious nut-job guide has abandoned them.
Even so, there are a few good moments, and I have to credit the actors for doing a decent job, but when the Bigfoot ‘plot’ is shoved aside to focus on a group of psychotic rednecks, the film loses what small appeal it had, and even tosses in a weird male-rape scene at the end to liven things up. Also, the final shot of them film – which may or may not feature a sasquatch – is a bit silly and doesn’t make sense.
A bad film, but there are worse films out there. A decent effort, but I lost interest quite early in the movie and it didn’t recover. Maybe try watching this when you’re drunk and it might make sense. Try the far superior ‘Troll Hunter’ if you want a found-footage film with actual monsters, decent characters and a coherent plot.
Release Date: 6th May 2013
Age Rating: 15
Amazon Price (as of 26/4/13): £9.75 (DVD)
Finally. After so much tension and controversy, Evil Dead is upon us and we have been divided as horror fans into two corners; the disappointed and the extremely satisfied. No one is standing on the fence on this one.
This is one of the only films that can hold the title of remake in a positive light. It does exactly what it should; it reconstructs the old using the technology that is offered to us now in the 21st century, and it delivers. It just LOOKS fantastic. And boy does it pack a punch! It never cuts, the slamming of a trapdoor only then takes us to what lies beneath; there is no shying away from the evil in this cabin.
The original film was always known for being centred around the gore, banishing the acting and characters in the background, however, the acting overall was suitable, not academy award winning, but not distracting. Cloverfield’s Jessica Lucas as Olivia stood out in her role, with Shiloh Fernandez as David the most lacking, but all were outshone by Jane Levy as Mia, who took all the roles thrown at her from junkie, heavily possessed and heroine and left us transfixed.
The film is far from terrifying, but more of a masterpiece, constructed to perfection. I do hope that this is an insight into what we can expect from horror in the years to come.
Release Date: Out Now
Age Rating: 18
Reviewed by Lisha Blackhurst
Originally posted via RabbitInRed
The demon possession sub-genre of horror is a tricky one to get right. Today we review THE POSSESSION a horror that was an okay watch but could have been better.
When Hannah (Madison Davenport – HORTON HEARS A WHO, OVER THE HEDGE) picks up an old box from a yard sale, her behavior begins the change. Her apatite gets bigger, her anger seems to escalate and her father watches as she begins to get emotionally attached to the box. Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan – WATCHMEN, TV’s SUPERNATURAL) knows this isn’t just his little girl acting out but it’s not until supernatural events begin to happen that he fears for not only his daughter but for his whole family.
Now THE POSSESSION does have some creepy moments, the hand inside the girl’s mouth and the scan scenes will make your skin crawl, however the moths didn’t make sense to me. Maybe I have missed something somewhere, but nothing was really explained. The acting was okay, the kids are not the most talented actresses in the world but you they got by overall. The story was interesting, it is meant to be based on true events but even I thought this was a little farfetched to be classed as that. When you put it up against films like WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT the realistic element just wasn’t being played out in this one.
The direction was good and the screenplay worked as a whole, and compared to films like INSIDIOUS, THE POSSESSION is high on my recommend list for this style of film, however as I said before it isn’t really in the ‘Based on true events’ category. This is a rubbish marketing style, it doesn’t work, I mean look at all these found footage horror films that use it and you KNOW it isn’t based on true events.
This is worth a watch. I would even say this is a good film to watch with friends but I still think it could have been better. There are some good creepy moments which are counter attacked by some crap CGI death scenes, but there are a hell of a lot worse out there.
Release Date: Out Now
Age Rating: 15
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Amazon Price (on 24/4/13): £14.14 (DVD) £18.00 (Blu-Ray)
The chances of anyone reading this review who hasn’t heard of the Evil Dead franchise (published as it is on a horror website) are fairly slim. With the original films firmly entrenched in the Horror hall of fame and a extra gory remake in cinemas right now it’s likely to be tough to find someone who is ignorant to the extravaganza of gore and demonic possession that catapulted director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell into the beady eye of Hollywood. But with the Blu Ray release of Evil Dead 2 throwing arguably the series’ strongest offering into glorious HD it seems like the perfect time to revisit the ass kicking adventures of Ash J Williams. Played as a semi sequel of the first film, Evil Dead 2 gives us a revised version of the events of the first film in the opening five minutes, before throwing us headlong back into the same format for round two, with sole survivor Ash (Campbell) left trapped in the same cabin where his friends lost their lives, the victims of the Sumerian Book of the Dead. As Ash struggles to keep body and soul together (rather unsuccessfully in the case of the former), Annie (Sarah Berry), the daughter of the professor whose studies unwittingly unlocked the horrors of the Book, arrives in search of her father’s work, accompanied by two local rednecks. But when a second reading of the accursed text causes a further horde of deadites to be unleashed into the world Ash, Annie and co are thrown into a desperate (and fairly hilarious) fight for their lives. Straddling the line between the (slightly) straighter horror of The Evil Dead and the OTT comedy action of Army of Darkness, Evil Dead 2 has been dismissed by many as ‘the original with a bigger budget’. But while the story line is remarkably similar, Evil Dead 2 takes the lessons that Raimi and co learnt on the first film and allows them to build a film that in many respects tops the achievements of its predecessor. Raimi’s kinetic and innovative camerawork carries over from the first film, combining slapstick pratfalls with oodles of gore and some fantastically effective creature effects. This is aided and abetted by a star making turn from Campbell, who ramps everything up to eleven in a performance which emits manic energy like a dying sun. Wide eyed and seemingly teetering on the edge of hysteria, Campbell dances between lantern-jawed hero and Looney Toon caricature as he drives the film through its frantic 84 minute run time, making it easy to see why his place in the Horror pantheon will forever be secure. On the technical side of things, the Blu Ray transfer quality is pretty decent for a film of this age but the stock footage is rather grainy and up close the cracks begin to show, with some green screen effects especially jarring. This probably won’t bother anyone except the more committed videophiles amongst us, and the transfer is still head and shoulders above every other version on the market today, but it’s still worth mentioning. The special features are fairly basic compared to modern day offerings but are interesting none the less, and offer an interesting insight into how the film was made. Ultimately Evil Dead 2 may not be for everyone’s taste, with the comedy aspects of the film could make it difficult for some people to get on with and the relatively low quality may be a turn off to those used to today’s crisper horror. But if you consider yourself a horror fan your film collection will not be complete without a copy of this nestled on the shelf, and it should be considered mandatory viewing for everyone.Extras:
Release Date: 15th April 2013 Age Rating: 18 Format: Blu-RayR.R.P: £22.99
- Commentary with writer/director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero
- Swallowed souls: The Making of Evil Dead II (new!)
- Cabin Fever: a fly on the wall behind the scenes (new!)
- Road to Wadesboro: Revisiting the Shooting Location of Evil Dead II (new!)
- Archival Featurettes: Behind the screams / Making of ED2 / Theatrical Trailer
- Photo galleries