“Hide in the Light” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Hide in the Light (2018), the debut feature from co-writer and director Mikey McGregor, is moody, spectacular supernatural horror. The efficient and well-mounted 80-minute film effectively utilizes the time-honored device of the sinister being lurking unseen in the darkness. This is most noteworthy in the tense and exciting second half of the arrangement. Yet, the feature is so well-made, paced and tense that it never ceases to feel fresh and exciting. Richard Albert’s wonderfully creepy music, McGregor’s brilliant behind the lens work and Gonzalo Digenio’s rich cinematography only make the production evermore haunting and memorable. These qualities are enhanced by the stunning performances present throughout the endeavor. For example, Eric Roberts offers a phenomenal depiction as Father Wes. Additionally, Jesse James is terrific as Todd. The same can be said of Lindsay Lamb’s engaging depiction of Becca.

McGregor’s movie tells the tale of a group of thrill-seeking friends. They break into the fictional Saint Petersberg Orphanage in hopes of exploration. In so doing, they find themselves being stalked by paranormal forces. Eventually the credibly etched and relatable protagonists on-screen unveil that they can only find safety by doing as the title suggests. The symbolism of such an act, especially in a religious sense, is applied intriguingly to the project. This is without the notion ever being overdone.

Such a solid narrative foundation calls to mind David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out (2016) in its concept. Yet, McGregor’s fabrication is comparable to James Wan’s modern haunted house masterpiece The Conjuring (2013) in its ability to unnerve. This is evident in the chilling five-minute prologue of the endeavor. It is set in 1966. In turn, McGregor and his fellow scripters Cynthia Bravo (who deftly plays Karen) and Digenio craft a tale that is as scary as it is entertaining. Hide in the Light is imaginative and harrowing; an instant genre classic! It will be released by High Octane Pictures later in the year.

(Unrated).

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“Hell’s Kitty” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Hell’s Kitty (2016), the 98-minute sophomore feature from writer-director Nicholas Tana, is an affectionate and wildly hilarious sendup of the ardent bond between owner and pet. It also successfully operates as a loving parody of the horror genre. Particularly, the compositions of literary maestro Stephen King. Additionally, sly references to classic films rooted in this genre abound. Nods to Ghostbusters (1984), Poltergeist (1982), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), Halloween (1978), the Friday the 13th franchise (1980-present), The Fog (1980) and The Omen (1976) are all cleverly woven into the fabric of the narrative. Yet, the most brilliant of these bits is a black and white lampooning of the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960). It occurs near the one-hour mark. Heightening the enjoyment of this factor is an all-star cast of categorically related cinematic veterans. All of whom have small roles throughout the picture. They are also frequently named after personas from the opuses of terror mentioned above. Nina Kate’s amusing representation of Dr. Laurie Strodes is a wonderful example. Similarly, Doug Jones (2017’s stunning The Shape of Water) is terrific as Father Damien. Dale Midkiff (1989’s Pet Sematary) is engaging as Rosemary Carrie. Continually, Lynn Lowry is a delight to watch as The Medium. Courtney Gains is exceptional as Mordicia. A late sequence that kids the original adaptation of King’s Children of the Corn (1984), which Gains appeared in as the antagonistic Malachi, is another memorable highlight of the exercise.

Based on both the web series and the comic book of the same name, the production is inspired by Tana’s own personal experiences with his cat, Angel. Such is a moniker shared by the feline cited in the title of Tana’s tale. In the affair, Nick (in a lively and charismatic depiction from Tana), is a Hollywood screenwriter. He is one whose attempts at romantic entanglements are constantly cut short. This is by Angel’s violent outbursts when women are around him. As these murderous eruptions increase in number, Nick believes his cat has been possessed by a demon. Seeking help from a variety of individuals, Nick attempts to stop the body count by getting his beloved companion exorcised.

Such is a fun and inventive concept. It also works tremendously well. This is especially evident when combined with the proudly tongue-in-cheek execution of the exertion. Tana’s witty, heartfelt and skillfully paced script makes the most of this idea. The arrangement is complete with felicitous humor and dialogue. Correspondingly, the characters are just as smartly crafted and relatable. Furthermore, the sharp storytelling abilities in Tana’s screenplay are made increasingly alluring. This is via Tana’s charming and stylish guidance of the project.

Assisting matters is the visually impressive opening and closing credits. Richard Albert’s music, with supplementary material from Wolfgang Lackner, is certainly tone-fitting. The most memorable and side-splitting of these selections is a number that sounds like a moggy-driven rendition of Jerry Goldsmith’s “Ave Satani” (1976). The playful effects, striking cinematography, excellent sound and proficient editing enhance the immersive pleasure derived from the undertaking.

Produced by Denise Acosta, Hell’s Kitty is grand, 1980’s influenced entertainment. The intermittent sequences of gore are effectively constructed. Still, the labor is never overly reliant on these instances. This can also be said of the spirited scares Tana compiles throughout the endeavor. In so doing, Tana erects an impeccable atmosphere that mixes laughter with the paranormal. It is one that never wavers from commencement to conclusion. Highly reminiscent of Tim Burton’s timeless Beetlejuice (1988) and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996) in both quality and sheer rewatchability, Tana’s configuration is destined to be a cult classic! I recommend checking it out when it arrives on video on demand on March 13th, 2018.

(Unrated).

“Curse of the Witch’s Doll” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Curse of the Witch’s Doll (2018), the debut feature from writer-director Lawrence Fowler, is an ambitious and frequently surprising 98-minute horror film. It is one which largely defies the stalk-and-slash expectations of the killer toy sub-genre. Still, what is just as noteworthy is how often Fowler changes the setting and categorization of the piece. For instance, the presentation commences with a quick, but gripping, bit that takes place in 1660. Afterwards, Fowler fast-forwards to the year where the bulk of the action in Fowler’s endeavor resides: 1942. The early sequences in this time frame beautifully flesh-out the bond between our heroine, Adeline Gray (in an always compelling turn from Helen Crevel), and her daughter, Chloe (in a mesmerizing enactment from Layla Watts). They are attempting to escape the bombing in their home town. This discharge leads them to an ominous mansion in the woods. Taking refuge in the domicile, the movie effectively plays like a gothic haunted house work for the first half of the presentation. Paired along with this strong element is the air of a missing person narrative. Such occurs as Chloe suddenly vanishes near the 20-minute mark. Eventually, the grief-stricken Adeline comes to believe that this disappearance was caused by the creepy title object.

Fowler handles this initial portion of the affair aptly. There is an atmosphere of mystery to the manner the proceedings found in this segment unfold that is both tense and interesting. Such an approach makes the alluring plot of the production evermore captivating. But, the exercise loses some momentum when the location of the action shifts after this stage. From herein, the new position for the chronicle becomes a time-honored cliché. This is disheartening after the earlier arrangement. Despite this previously stated disappointment, and the fact that some of the sequences in this latter phase can be a bit too dialogue-heavy, the undertaking still endures as focused and absorbing. Strengthening this aspect is that the project ends with a satisfying nod to the found footage technique. It is rooted in the present day.

What is just as enjoyable in Fowler’s presentation is the minimal use of its skillful effects. Such a decision adds a classic demeanor to the entirety. It is one that splendidly compliments the chill-inducing tone of the exertion. Helping matters is co-producer Geoff Fowler’s stunning doll design. Liz Fowler’s costume work is similarly stellar. The same can also be said of Lawrence Fowler’s seamless editing. His writing is sharp, character-driven and smartly paced. Likewise, his guidance of the project is claustrophobic, stylish and superb. The cinematography, make-up and sound contributions are masterful. Furthermore, Claire Carreno is excellent as The Witch. Philip Ridout’s depiction of Arthur Harper is brilliant. Neil Hobbs’ representation of Detective Nolan is terrific.

Spanning over 450 years, Curse of the Witch’s Doll is a success. Though it suffers at times in its later phases, the High Octane Pictures release remains admirable. This is especially true when considering the variety instilled in how Fowler tells his tale. There is a finely tuned sense of menace throughout that is addictive. Furthermore, the on-screen personas are relatable. Fowler’s stalwart concentration on Adeline’s plight heightens both the dramatic sensibilities and the underlying suspense of the project. Audiences are with Fowler’s lead through every painful step in her journey. Because of this, the Northampton, England recorded exertion fluently balances both emotional and physical terrors. The result of these high-functioning qualities is a well-crafted cinematic excursion. It is one that is unafraid to take risks and proudly surpasses presumptions. I highly recommend seeking out Fowler’s latest arrangement. It will arrive on VOD on February 2nd and on DVD March 6th, 2018.

(Unrated). Contains violence and adult themes.

“Flay” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Flay (2017), from screenwriter Matthew Daley and director Eric Pham, is an inventive, well-mounted and visually stunning exercise in paranormal fear. A dazzling sequence near the half-hour mark, which showcases a small geyser of blood slowly spiraling upwards towards a lone ceiling light bulb, splendidly backs up the effectiveness of the latter term. Yet, there is a dramatic undercurrent to the proceedings. It is one which is rigorously rooted in the familial bond. Such makes Daley and Pham’s credibly etched on-screen personas richer. This can also be said of the naturally intriguing story. It also makes the proceedings evermore plausible. These fundamentals enhance the dimension and scope of the ambitious 93-minute picture. There is also a plethora of beautifully honed, time-honored frights. Even if the exertion is a bit too reliant on the evil figure lurking in the background trope, this article helps make for an endeavor that is nail-biting fun. It is also an exceptional display of cinematic craftsmanship. From the chilling opening narration to the rousing finale, Pham imprints these assets proudly on every frame of the film.

Pham’s masterful opus chronicles the heroine of the tale, Moon Crane (in a commanding and layered portrayal from Elle LaMont) returning to her home after the sudden death of her mother, Patricia (Peggy Schott). Having alienated herself from her family for an extended period, Moon uncovers turbulence in her relationship with her younger brother, River (in an excellent turn from Dalton E. Gray). It is also reflected in her own personal dealings. Soon Moon begins having horrific visions. After a cursed object belonging to Patricia is stolen, Moon finds herself trying to stop the slaughter of the faceless title fiend (in an undeniably menacing depiction from Jordan LeuVoy). This is with the assistance of her ex-boyfriend and police officer, Tyler Foreman (in a gripping depiction by Johnny Walter).

There is a tense sense of mystery to the events that unfold in Pham’s production. This is a constant source of exhilaration. Though Daley’s confidently paced script utilizes some formulaic elements in its construction, this former stated attribute helps elevate the movie far beyond the general expectations of the genre. Such a strength is a courtesy of Pham’s claustrophobic and assuredly skillful guidance of the project. There is a grand artistry to how a great number of the scenes are shot. It heightens the buildup. Moreover, this quality often gives the proceedings a highly admirable Dario Argento-like veneer. Gary Tachell’s immersive cinematography, Adam Ketcham’s sharp editing and Akihiko Matsumoto’s music make these bits increasingly hypnotic. This can also be said of the respective contributions from the make-up, effects and sound department. All of whom offer superb work. Alessandro Sereni’s set decoration is excellent. Correspondingly, Violett Beane is riveting as Bethany. A. Michael Baldwin is terrific as Billy Salcedo. Additionally, the continually ominous tone of the piece adds to the overall enjoyment.

In turn, Pham has erected an envy-inducing effort. It is one that is punctuated by solid dialogue, challenging themes and satisfying character arcs. The scares are handled in an always welcome and refreshingly subtle way. Partially inspired by the Japanese legend of the Noppera-bo, Pham’s flick calls to mind the American remakes The Grudge (2004) and The Ring (2002). Regardless, this approach is far more successful in this more recent exertion than it was in these prior examples. Also, the post-credits scene in Pham’s feature is certainly captivating.

Pham has incredible talent. Flay, which is scheduled to be released on digital March 6th, 2018, is full-bodied proof of this statement. I look forward to seeing what future celluloid wonders he has in store.

(PG-13). Contains adult situations and violence.

“Butcher the Bakers” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

Butcher the Bakers (2017), the third full-length feature from writer-director Tyler Amm, is a uniquely entertaining and spectacularly inventive medley of humor and horror. Part contract killer tale, part buddy comedy and part slasher saga, the 94-minute arrangement is pure fun. Much of this endless enjoyment derives from Amm and Virginia Campbell’s sharp and briskly-paced script. Filled with well-timed gags, smirk-inducing dialogue and retro (primarily 1980’s influenced) terror elements, Amm and Campbell’s previously stated contribution also winks at audiences with a few genuinely inspired self-referential moments. One of these is a nod to Amm’s debut picture, River City Panic (2015). There are also subtle alignments to numerous big screen classics wisely placed throughout the affair. John McTiernan’s action masterpiece Die Hard (1988) and Steven Spielberg’s timeless science-fiction epic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) are the most easily perceptible of these allusions. There is also a frenetic and infectious energy the likable cast radiates throughout the undertaking. When unified by the stellar performances that only continue to reflect these terms, the rousing success of Amm’s latest genre crossbreed is increasingly distinguishable.

Amm chronicles Dragomir ‘Drag’ the Reaper (in a stupendous turn from Mike Behrens that drips old-fashioned macabre). Having recently lost his job, Drag begins the arduous process of killing members of a small town. The reason for his behavior is to collect souls. Why he needs to amass these internal mechanisms is an answer that Drag keeps to himself. Soon bakery shop laborers Sam and Martin (Sean Walsh and Ryan Mathew Ziegler respectively) are hired to permanently disrupt Drag’s massacre. Because of this, the lead villain of Amm’s effort finds it progressively difficult to keep his plans and reasoning for his wicked measures to himself.

It’s a great set-up. Such is one that is molded with crowd-pleasing flare from its commercial-like opening, which is spliced with flashes of tense brutality, until the satisfying conclusion of the exertion. The narrative is given further life by Amm’s stylish and efficient guidance of the project. His editing is just as proficient. Adding to these qualities is Zach Shaw’s alternately rich and appropriately gritty cinematography. Billy Niebuhr’s music beautifully echoes the offbeat, grim and gut-busting tone of the piece. The camera work is exceptional. Moreover, the special and visual effects enhance the joy of the enterprise. This is with their decidedly antiquated veneer. Nicholas Swartz’s costume design is terrific. The sound department work is top-notch. Relatedly, Lisa Wojcik is remarkable in her portrayal of Pat. The post-credits sequence is hilarious. It brilliantly expands upon the commencement of the story.

Co-executive produced by P.J. Starks (2015’s Volumes of Blood), Amm’s exercise has its share of exceptionally crafted instances of gore. Yet, it is never overblown. The same can be said for the sum of Butcher the Bakers. Amm’s endeavor is daring, delightful and unabashedly tongue-in-cheek. Still, it hardly ever feels excessive. Such is a fine balancing act. It is one of the various essentials of Amm’s opus that I admired throughout its trim runtime. Another constant source of esteem would be Amm and his filmmaking participants’ palpable chemistry. It resonates through every merry frame of his most current outing. These high-functioning components combine to form a wonderful B-movie. Such is especially evident when considering the several smartly done twists which encompass the labor. Recorded in Ottawa, Illinois, this Petri Entertainment distribution release is brimming with the glorious, can-do spirit of independent cinema. I highly recommend seeking out Amm’s cleverly titled flick. It will be unleashed on select digital platforms in the U.S. on January 16th, 2018.

(Unrated). Contains scenes of graphic violence, adult language and adult themes.

Capsule Reviews: “All the Money in the World”, “The Devil’s Well”, “Ferdinand”, “The Foreigner” and “Slumber”

By Andrew Buckner

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.

All the Money in the World is one of the best films of 2017. It is also another masterful exhibition of craft from the always interesting director Ridley Scott. The 132-minute thriller, which chronicles the true- life story of the abduction of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III, is riveting from start to finish. It is so engrossing that I barely stirred during my viewing of the picture. Further benefitting the affair is a performance from Christopher Plummer that is one of the finest to hit movie screens all year. Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, who portray Gail Harris and Fletcher Chase respectively, issue deft, layered and gripping enactments. Additionally, Scott’s engrossing storytelling, confident pacing and distinguished behind the lens style makes this compelling and highly-cinematic work evermore accomplished. This is a must-see!

(R). Contains violence, language and adult themes.

In theaters now.

THE DEVIL’S WELL

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

The Devil’s Well (2017) is an always interesting, if routinely structured, faux documentary style horror picture. It is one that gleans its chilling nature in the manner of many of the most enduring installments in the previously stated sub-genre: through the power of the imagination. Whether describing fearful incidents in the past or present, the Kurtis Spieler penned and guided opus often wisely tells instead of directly showcasing its stabs at trepidation. This is excluding the engaging concluding 15 minutes of this 88-minute endeavor. Such a time-honored approach works beautifully. Spieler’s affair is no exception. In telling the simultaneously chilling and entertaining tale of Karla Marks (Anne-Marie Mueschke) and her disappearance into the notorious title place, Spieler crafts both relatable and believable characterizations, same said dialogue, situations and scares into a deft dose of low-budget chills. Recommended!

(Unrated).

On DVD 1/23/18 from Wild Eye Releasing.

FERDINAND

Rating: **** out of *****.

Though formulaic in structure and prone to a few moments that may be thematically too dark for some young children (especially in the finale), the beautifully animated Ferdinand (2017) sports a balance of genuinely funny humor and effective sentiment that is as admirable as it is infectious. Alongside John Cena and Kate McKinnon’s lively lead voice work, the always welcome message of embracing love in a world of violence that courses throughout the film is as timely as it is timeless. In turn, the slightly overlong 108-minute feature, based on Munro Leaf’s classic book about the adventures of a kind-hearted bull who is mistaken for a menace, proves to be both a wonderful surprise and robust family-friendly entertainment.

(PG). Contains some crude moments and situations.

In theaters now.

THE FOREIGNER

Rating: *1/2 out of *****.

The Foreigner (2017) is a murky, dull, by-the-numbers mess of a movie. It fails as both a conspiracy thriller and as an action film. Worst of all, leading man Jackie Chan’s often jaw-dropping capacity for cinematic combat is wasted here. This is due to director Martin Campbell’s insistence on keeping such moments as brief and standard service as possible. This is a problem found throughout the relatively empty 112-minute runtime of the film. Moreover, the finale to this terrorist revenge tale is especially flat and unsatisfying. In turn, Campbell has crafted an all-around desperate, distant and forgettable venture. Skip it.

(R). Contains violence and adult themes.

Now available on digital.

SLUMBER

Rating: **** out of *****.

Slumber (2017) is a lean, well-mounted and genuinely effective sleep paralysis based horror outing. The story, which concerns a sleep doctor’s attempts to defend a family from a demon that torments them while they dream, is first-rate. The same can be said of Maggie Q’s central depiction of Alice Arnolds. Co-writer (with Richard Hobley) and director Jonathan Hopkins provides excellent work with his aforesaid contributions. The last 15 of this 84-minute production, though a shade predictable, are a perfect payoff to the immersive buildup beforehand.

(Unrated). Contains violence and terrifying situations.

Now available on digital and in select theaters.

The 60 Greatest Films of 2017

By Andrew Buckner

It has been another remarkable year for cinema. With this in mind, I gladly enclose my list of the sixty greatest films of 2017. The criteria I utilized when putting this composition together is that every picture had a U.S. release date in the aforementioned year. Please note that I have yet to see The Shape of Water and The Disaster Artist. Hence, the exclusion of these features from this article. Yet, make sure to return to this page. I will be adding to this piece once I have had the chance to view these pictures myself. Enjoy!

60. Icarus
Director: Bryan Fogel

59. Marshall
Director: Reginald Hudlin.

58. Wind River
Director: Taylor Sheridan.

57. A**holes
Director: Peter Vack.

56. Land of Mine
Director: Martin Zandvliet.

55. 20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills.

54. Night Job
Director: J. Antonio.

53. Columbus
Director: Kogonada.

52. 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene
Director: Alexandre O. Phillipe.

51. Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary
Directors: John Campopiano, Justin White.

50. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Director: Noah Baumbach.

49. Okja
Director: Bong Joon-ho.

48. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele.

47. The Big Sick
Director: Michael Showalter.

46. Fairfield Follies
Director: Laura Pepper.

45. Second Nature
Director: Michael Cross.

44. Baby Driver
Director: Edgar Wright.

43. Gerald’s Game
Director: Mike Flanagan.

42. 1922
Director: Zak Hilditch.

41. A Dark Song
Director: Liam Gavin.

40. Blade Runner 2049
Director: Dennis Villeneuve.

39. After the Storm
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

38. The Lost City of Z
Director: James Gray.

37. The Beguiled
Director: Sofia Coppola.

36. Personal Shopper
Director: Olivier Assayas.

35. Strapped for Danger
Director: Richard Griffin.

34. War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves.

33. Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott.

32. Blade of the Immortal
Director: Takashi Miike.

31. Kuso
Director: Flying Lotus.

30. Anti Matter
Director: Keir Burrows.

29. The Transfiguration
Director: Michael O’ Shea.

28. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Director: Steve James.

27. We Are the Flesh
Director: Emiliano Rocha Minter.

26. Rat Film
Director: Theo Anthony.

25. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Directors: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk.

24.. The Lure
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska.

23. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond- Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
Director: Chris Smith.

22. Mudbound
Director: Dee Rees.

21. A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski.

20. Colossal
Director: Nacho Vigalondo.

19. Spielberg
Director: Susan Lacy.

18. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Director: Richard Griffin.

17. A Quiet Passion
Director: Terence Davies.

16. David Lynch: The Art Life
Directors: Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm.

15. My Pet Dinosaur
Director: Matt Drummond.

14. Strong Island
Director: Yance Ford.

13. Leftovers
Director: Seth Hancock.

12. The Phantom Thread
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.

11.Loving Vincent
Directors: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.

10. Last Men in Aleppo
Directors: Firas Fayyad, Steen Johanessen, Hasan Kattan.

9. All the Money in the World
Director: Ridley Scott.

8. Long Night in a Dead City
Director: Richard Griffin.

7. Raw
Director: Julia Ducournau.

6. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.

5. Endless Poetry
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky.

4. Detroit
Director: Kathryn Bigelow.

3. A Ghost Story
Director: David Lowery.

2. The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg.

1. mother!
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

“Cannibal Farm” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Cannibal Farm (2017), the second feature from writer-director Charlie Steeds, is dripping with obvious influence. This is most readily discrnible from the on-going Texas Chain Saw Massacre series. It is visible in its unflinchingly grim subject matter. Particularly, the taboo consumption stated outright in the title of Steeds’ endeavor. Such a similarity is also evident in the general appearance of the murderous madman glimpsed on the eye-catching cover art. This image is also slyly captured in myriad forms throughout the course of the 101-minute undertaking itself. Furthermore, Steeds’ construction shares the same grindhouse style and gritty artistry that graced Tobe Hooper’s groundbreaking initial installment of the afore-said succession, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Moreover, the now traditional central location of the action in both films is an isolated farmhouse. Not to mention, once the tension begins in each picture there is simply no letup. This is until the relatively brief end credits roll. In the case of Steeds’ enterprise, this perpetual concentration commences at the half-hour mark. This is in a sequence that is as surprising as it is memorable.

These resemblances would’ve been enough to garner the interest of many genre enthusiasts. Regardless, Steeds doesn’t rely solely on this inspiration to propel his own material. Instead, he uses the strained relationships that are heavily focused on in the first act to culminate a concern for our protagonists that genuinely works. It also becomes the pulpit for an array of terrific lead performances. Chiefly, Barrington De La Roche as the notorious Hunt Hansen and Kate Marie Davies as our compelling heroine, Jessica Harver. Unlike various other terror-evoking showcases, these articles aren’t dropped as soon as our protagonists find themselves in a variety of potentially lethal encounters. Steeds never forgets these dramatic touches. They are addressed throughout the runtime to brilliant effect. This makes the intensity at hand evermore admirable, incessant and layered. It also gives way to the best twist in the entire fabrication. It arrives at the midway point. This bit is a masterclass in getting audience members to share the perspective of some of the leads.

Set in the British countryside, the story revolves around the Harver family. They begin the narrative in an effort at bonding and being able to overcome their past differences. This is through the time-honored cinematic tradition of a camping trip. After an unseen menace destroys the outdoors spot where the clan was hoping to stay for the night, they seek aid in a nearby homestead. Soon the tranquil ambitions of the Harvers are erected into an all-out nightmare. This is as they come face to face with Hansen (who receives his last name from the Icelandic-born actor that played Leatherface in Hooper’s masterpiece, Gunnar Hansen) and his deformed son.

This solid, if standard in retrospect, narrative foundation incorporates some interesting detachments from Hooper’s formula. For instance, the mobility of a variety of Steeds’ on-screen personas are limited to cages. This detail assists in making Cannibal Farm a taut, claustrophobic experience. Though this restraint in movement could’ve easily become repetitive in less imaginative hands, Steeds brings a string of uniquely dangerous situations for the encapsulated. Thus, the entertainment level of the piece never wavers. Steeds even sneaks in a few ideas in this arena that can be aligned to any of the eight Saw (2004-present) movies. One of the most haunting of these moments, which occurs in the last twenty minutes of the exertion, brilliantly calls to mind the iconic furnace scene in Saw II (2005).

Such an attribute is also a testament to the quality of Steeds’ character-oriented, brutal and inventive screenplay. The confidently paced and sharply structured script defies the stalk-and-slash expectations and clichés of the sub-category at nearly every turn. Such is most noteworthy in the execution of the unexpected and satisfying finale. This makes for an appropriate bookend to an exercise that commences with a jarring and assuredly attention-garnering (if too reliant on slow-motion shots) prologue. This configuration runs approximately five minutes.

Steeds’ behind the lens labors are just as potent. This can also be spoken of his editing. Furthermore, the cinematography from Michael Lloyd helps parallel the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre in another facet altogether. This is in its raw, yet technically magnificent, veneer. Correspondingly, Sam Benjafield’s music is marvelous and atmospheric.

Additionally, the previously undeclared enactments are deft. Sam Lane makes an incredible impression during his sparse turn as The Boy with The Melted Face. David Lenik as Toby and Rowena Bentley as Katherine Harver are equally enjoyable in their respective depictions. Toby-Wynn Davies is superb as Wesley Wallace. Peter Cosgrove is commanding as Everett Blackheart. Continuously, Joe Street’s representation of Kurt Daniels and Dylan Curtis’ embodiment of Sam Harver are involving and skillful.

Also known as Escape from Cannibal Farm, Steeds’ latest flick is a surefire triumph. The Dark Temple Motion Pictures production isn’t overly reliant on gore. Still, bystanders will leave the affair feeling as if they have seen an endless array of graphically violent arrangements. Such is a testament to the uncompromising effectiveness of Steeds’ craftsmanship. This is especially true of his capacity to fashion well-done and credible scares. It is also one of the more nuanced correlations to Hooper’s low-budget gem. Because of the above reasons, fans of boogeymen new and old will certainly want to check out this instant classic. It will be released on Video on Demand via High Octane Pictures on January 2nd, 2018.

The 25 Best Rap Albums of 2017

By Andrew Buckner

Included below are A Word of Dreams’ twenty-five favorite rap albums of 2017. The artist of the work proceeds the title of the project. Enjoy!

25. Acoustic Levitation – Devin the Dude
24. No Shame – Hopsin
23. Can’t Stay the Same – Uncle Meg & John Debt
22. Laila’s Wisdom – Rapsody
21. Blue Chips 7000 – Action Bronson
20. Rap Album Two – Jonwayne
19. Dominion – Tech N9ne Collabos
18. DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar
17. Catastrophic Event Specialists – Ces Cru
16. Boomiverse – Big Boi
15. Anchovies – Apollo Brown & Planet Asia
14. 4:44 – Jay-Z
13. The Wild – Raekwon
12. Deeply Rooted: The Lost Files – Scarface
11. Last Call – Rittz
10. Grey Blood – Swifty McVay
9. The Darkest Hour – Madchild
8. Flower Boy – Tyler the Creator
7. Imperius Rex – Sean Price
6. Good vs. Evil II: The Red Empire – Kxng Crooked
5. Radio Silence – Talib Kweli
4. Trial by Fire – Yelawolf
3. Nothing is Quick in the Desert – Public Enemy
2. The Saga Continues – Wu-Tang
1. Revival – Eminem

Runners-Up:

Big Fish Theory – Vince Staples

No_One Ever Really Dies – N.E.R.D.

 

The 15 Best Short Films of 2017

By Andrew Buckner

Included below are A Word of Dreams’ fifteen favorite short films of 2017. The title of the work is proceeded by the name of the director or directors of the project. Enjoy!

15. “Ghost Bikes” – (Ethan Brooks)
14. “Alone” – (Tofiq Rzayev)
13. “Female” – (Aissa Carnet)
12. “Cosmic Bowling” – (Emily Berge, Spencer Thielmann)
11. “Tales to Line the Coffin” – (Evan Schneider)
10. “I Feel”- (Steve Blackwood)                                                                                                                                                                                                 9. “In a Heartbeat” – (Esteban Bravo, Beth David)
8. “To Be Alone” – (Matthew Mahler)
7. “The Stranger” – (Jeremy Arruda)
6. “Disregard the Vampire: A Mike Messier Documentary” – (Mike Messier)
5. “Undatement Center” – (Chris Esper)
4. “The Girls Were Doing Nothing” – (Dekel Berenson)
3. “Triangle” – (Christopher Fox)
2. “Leftovers” – (Tofiq Rzayev)
1. “Fireflies” – (Raouf Zaki)