I went into watching The Uninvited without any real pre-existing knowledge of what I was letting myself in for; the name of the film seemed familiar, beyond that though I couldn’t really recall much else about the film, and the only key detail I knew about the film was that it was a horror film. The film I’d say comes across as a mix of films like Ringu and The Grudge, combined with more contemporary films such as Paranormal Activity and Insidious. It’s actually a remake of the South Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, and this would therefore explain the Asian horror vibe of the film that you get here.
One of the key things that struck me about The Uninvited is the performance of Elizabeth Banks; she’s really good as the creepy stepmother, and for me she provided the absolute stand out performance of the film. Unfortunately there was not really enough focus on her character for my liking, when she was called upon she was brilliant at all times however, and fulfilled her role perfectly in creating a sense of tension and suspense throughout the film. Elizabeth Banks was brilliant then, but beyond this I have very little that’s particularly positive to say about The Uninvited. This film is incredibly clichéd and unoriginal, everything that takes place in the film has all been done before, and it’s all been done a lot better in the past, too.
The Uninvited is one of those horror film’s that comes complete with a twist; you think you know where you are with the film, and then it goes and ‘shocks’ you by turning that around, only, you know, it doesn’t, because in horror film’s these days it’s actually probably more shocking when the film doesn’t have a terrible twist. I think the film was probably actually better before it provided its big twist, I certainly enjoyed it a little more up until that point anyway, then they went and hit me with it, and I felt even more disappointed in the film than I’d anticipated. I’m guessing the original film that The Uninvited is based on had this twist, and so it’s not really the fault of directorial duo Charles Guard and Thomas Guard that this element of the film is so completely awful, it did rather ruin any enjoyment that I’d taken from the script up until this point however, and left me more than a little disappointed in the direction that the film had taken.
Throughout the film there are some pretty great shots of the location, aesthetically the film is incredibly pleasing, in terms of actual content however the film fails to ever really deliver. There doesn’t seem to be a strong sense of storyline here, the film just seems to meander along, and every so often we’re thrown another ghost-child moment that we get all too often with these annoying Asian horror film remakes. Banks’ character is great at building tension when she’s around, all too often she’s not however, and the film fails to really grab you or have you particularly caring about the events that are taking place onscreen. There’s no great sense of structure here, and for that reason The Uninvited really seems to struggle.
The film managed to gross in excess of $41 million worldwide, and I really don’t know how it managed to do this. Sure, it has the star power of people like Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, and Emily Browning, it also happens to be a really bad film however, and surely word travels pretty fast in this day and age about just how truly awful a new film is?! Elizabeth Banks is really good in the film, she alone is not enough to save it however, and The Uninvited ultimately suffers from its disappointingly clichéd approach and failure to really provide any sort of a compelling viewing experience. I’ve seen worse, but The Uninvited really isn’t a horror film that works, and definitely isn’t a film that I’ll be watching again in the future.
As a zombie loving film student living in East London, Cockneys vs Zombies is a film that really made me think ‘This is a film that I’d absolutely love to have been involved in’. It’s a low budget zombie horror film from London based filmmaker Matthias Hoene, and Hoene is clearly someone with a very good knowledge of horror and a keen eye for what works in the genre. With a large helping of humour, a number of absolutely beautiful shots, and an incredibly badass war veteran played by Alan Ford, Cockneys vs Zombies really does have a lot going for it, and it’s hard not to be impressed by this zombie flick set in the English capital.
Before watching the film I must say that I didn’t have particularly high expectations; I’ve watched a lot of low budget horror films in my time, many of which have failed to impress and long been forgotten. Cockneys vs Zombies perhaps had a harder job to do with me than most, it’s set in the area that I currently live after all, an area in which I’ve filmed a few short films myself and I therefore really didn’t want the film to let my current area down. With Cockneys vs Zombies, Matthias Hoene most certainly succeeded in making me feel proud to be a budding filmmaker in East London.
Michelle Ryan, formerly of Eastenders fame, is one of the film’s key stars here, I also spotted Gary Beadle making a brief cameo, and there are a few others involved in the film as well with Eastenders/East London connections. There are thankfully no Dick Van Dyke style cockney accents present here, the key cockney’s all seem to be pretty well cast and the film definitely delivers in this area. As I mentioned before, Alan Ford’s character is particularly brilliant in the film, and for me this was one of the most standout elements of Cockneys vs Zombies. With a low budget comedy horror film such as this, there is much emphasis on the quality of the script and the quality of the acting in order to make it work, and in my eyes Matthias Hoene has certainly succeeded here in making sure that all elements of the film are strong enough to make it work and make it work well.
Cockneys vs Zombies is a tasty little mashup of comedy horror and action film conventions, combining nicely to form a 90 minute feature film of fun that will no doubt please fans of British horror films. There’s enough here to keep you entertained for the film’s duration, and if you’re looking for a bit of light entertainment on an evening then you can definitely do a lot worse than sitting down with Cockneys vs Zombies. There’s enough gore here to please the pure horror fans, enough light-hearted humour to please the comedy fans, and a healthy helping of action thrown in there as well just for good measure.
Cockneys vs Zombies is a film that’s well worth a watch, and it’ll also be interesting to keep an eye out for director Matthias Hoene and screenwriter James Moran in the future to see what they come up with next. Moran appears to be involved in writing a new film for 2013, Silent Night of the Living Dead, so I’ll certainly be checking that one out and seeing what that film has to offer; if Cockneys vs Zombies is anything to go by then I should surely be in for another British horror treat!
Payback Season is your typical Adam Deacon drama, offering a view of working class London and an aspiration for a life beyond the mundane, something that key protagonist Jerome has been able to achieve by becoming a professional footballer. Despite his having become a professional footballer however, his roots still weigh heavily upon him and his childhood gang connections threaten to hold him back in his quest for a better life for both himself and his mother and brother family unit.
Whilst Payback Season doesn’t really offer anything particularly new, it does provide for a pretty enjoyable viewing experience, and there are also some decent acting performances on display here. There are a few faces here that you’ll probably recognise, but also a few more that are clearly fairly inexperienced, yet do still stand out in a raw kind of way.
If you like Adam Deacon as an actor then you’ll no doubt find some joy here, and whilst Payback Season is unlikely to become your favourite film of all time, it will provide a decent hour and a half of entertainment. The storyline is nothing new, the film itself is nothing exemplary, but if you’re looking for a decent low budget British drama then you can definitely do a lot worse than watching Payback Season.
Truth or Dare is a British horror/thriller from director Robert Heath. Not familiar with either of Heath’s previous two films, I came into this film unsure what to expect. The film has an estimated budget of £2,000,000, a relatively small amount in filmmaking terms, and given the budget that this film was made with; I’d say that Robert Heath has done a pretty good job here.
Whilst this probably isn’t the best film you’ll ever see, or even the best film you’ll see this year, there’s something very watchable about Truth or Dare and I found that the film’s 91 minutes elapsed very quickly. The characters aren’t remotely likeable and you therefore find yourself entirely emotionally detached from what happens to them; live or die you don’t really mind, but this fact is perhaps as much of a blessing as it is a curse. Due to the nature of the film, it’s kind of the idea that you don’t really like these characters because the film wouldn’t really work if they were likeable, however at the same time, because you don’t like them it’s therefore difficult to have a really strong feeling about the film I found. I found myself so detached from the film’s protagonists that come the end of the film, even though I felt that the film hadn’t dragged at all and time had in fact gone incredibly quickly, I didn’t really have a strong feeling about the film either way, and the film failed to leave any real lasting impression.
There are certainly plot holes here, but if you start dissecting every little detail of the film then you begin to take all the fun and enjoyment out of it, if you just enjoy it for what it is however then you’ll no doubt find that Truth or Dare is actually a pretty decent British film. The ending was poorly executed I felt, with the director perhaps seeking one final twist in the tail of the film that didn’t quite work out, however all in all Truth or Dare is a pretty solid effort of a British horror/thriller. There are certain parts of the film where things are at times a little predictable; sometimes it’s nice to be able to work out certain things as you go along however and it just makes the surprises that the film provides all the more pleasing to discover.
Truth or Dare is far from being the perfect British film; it has its plot holes, the ending is poor in my opinion, and if you like to be emotionally engaged with a film’s protagonists then you’re probably going to be left sorely disappointed here. For all of its downsides however this is still a very watchable film, and if you’ve got a spare hour and a half then there are certainly worse things you can do with your time than watch Truth or Dare.
Short, sharp, and snappy; Cradle Will Fall is a horror film that many will no doubt enjoy. Directors Lars Jacobson and Amardeep Kaleka pack a lot into the film’s 69 minute runtime, there are strong performances from both Colleen Porch and young star Ridge Canipe, and the film provides for a very entertaining overall viewing experience.
With a mother suffering from postnatal depression, we watch on as her mental state deteriorates and she struggles to handle the pressure of looking after four children. Her husband forced to work heavily to cover the bills, the mother feels that she has no one to turn to, ultimately snapping as it all becomes too much for her.
The build up is well presented on screen, the breakdown itself extremely well covered, and directors Lars Jacobson and Amardeep Kaleka have here made sure that they’ve put together a really rather unnerving horror film. Cradle Will Fall is a really powerful film, one that hits hard and sticks in your mind for long after you’ve finished watching it.
If you’re sick of predictable horror then Cradle Will Fall may just be a film for you to check out; there’s a great sense of realism here, and with Lars Jacobson and Amardeep Kaleka both making their feature length directorial debuts, this is most definitely an impressive effort from the inexperienced directorial duo. Many films will surely follow for these two directors and it’ll also be interesting to track the progress of Ridge Canipe’s career as he really does seem to be a hugely talented young actor.
For fans of the horror genre, Cradle Will Fall is a film that very much deserves to be added to your rental queue as watching this film at least once is most definitely highly recommended.
Go Ohara has history in films as a stuntman, this was his first crack at directing a feature film however and it rather shows. Geisha Assassin has a Mortal Kombat meets Kill Bill feel about it; the frantic action of the fighting has the feel of a video game, and there’s a definite Kill Bill style about the way that the film is set up. There’s little plot here, with the main emphasis on the samurai fighting.
Kotono (Minami Tsukui) witnessed the death of her father as a child, and several years later she has now set out to avenge his death. Hyo-e (Shigeru Kanai) is the man that killed her Father and the one that she really wants to get to, in order to do that however she must first get through a number of others that have set out to pit their skills against her.
With its jumpy camerawork, Geisha Assassin made me feel rather nauseous for the opening third of the film, and whilst I ultimately became somewhat used to the camera style it was definitely something that affected my overall enjoyment of the film. The one on one fighting scenes I felt were generally carried out rather well, at times when there were multiple people fighting main character Kotono however, the on-screen action just seemed to feel a little too much like Power Rangers (a programme that I never did enjoy, even as a child). With fight after fight of impressive action a gripping storyline is not necessarily a requirement, with Geisha Assassin the fighting action is a little too hit and miss for my liking though, and when the fighting falls flat there’s no great plot line to come to the film’s rescue.
Geisha Assassin is definitely not a terrible film, and included here are a number of impressive fight scenes that are well worth watching; with the good there is also a fair amount of bad to take though, and overall Geisha Assassin just didn’t really do it for me. The camerawork takes some getting used to and sticking with the film in the introduction was therefore quite a battle, and even after getting used to the camerawork I did still find several times that the film in places had quite a dizzying effect on me. Go Ohara can perhaps come back in the future with a more impressive offering as there are a few positive signs here, there’s still quite a bit to work on though and Geisha Assassin is a martial arts film where there is I feel much room for improvement.
It’s not often enough that a horror film comes along and really impresses me, but when I watched Lawrence Gough’s Salvage I was completely blown away by just how sublimely brilliant this film truly is. Salvage is a British horror film with an absolutely fantastic atmosphere, and right from the word go you know that you’re in for a treat with this one.
There’s trouble in the air as Jodie is taken by her Father to spend Christmas with her mother, Beth, in Liverpool. Already not wanting to spend Christmas with her Mother, things just seem to go from bad to worse for Jodie as she discovers her Mother sleeping with someone in the bedroom. Jodie is quick to head over to her friend’s house, and there is soon some strange activity in the street as the army shows up and asks that people remain locked inside their houses until further notice. As the phone line gets cut off, Beth begins to get increasingly more worried as there are strange goings on in the street and she can’t even get through to her daughter to check that all is okay with her. Things aren’t right at all, and although she’s been advised to remain in the house, Beth feels that it’s her duty as a mother to try and get across the street to see Jodie and make sure that her daughter is protected. People are changing and deaths are occurring; Jodie doesn’t just want to sit and do nothing and it’s time to take action as she leaves the house in hope of finding her daughter.
With a limited budget available to him, Lawrence Gough has managed to put to film one of the best British horrors I have seen in a long time, with an 81 minute offering that is absolutely packed full of quality. As both director and co-writer of the story, Lawrence Gough is obviously a man with a lot of great ideas, and is clearly very clued up when it comes to horror. Salvage has a similar feel about it to that of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and although it’s unlikely to bring in as much money as Boyle’s 2002 horror, Salvage is most definitely a film that Lawrence Gough can be very proud of.
Those that watch Lawrence Gough’s Salvage are sure to be impressed with this exciting British horror film, and although the film is a little rough around the edges due to its limited budget, look past this and what you have is an absolutely fantastic film. Neve McIntosh impresses massively as Beth, and the other actors present here also put in some quality performance when called upon. We spend a lot of time with key protagonist Beth and it was therefore important that Lawrence Gough chose someone for the part that could really pull it off; in Neve McIntosh he can certainly be seen to have chosen wisely, and never does the fine Scottish actress disappoint.
Lawrence Gough has another film coming up in 2011, The Drought, and given the quality of Salvage it will definitely be interesting to see what Gough can come up with next. Gough is once again working with Colin O’Donnell for The Drought, and having co-written the story for Salvage with him, one would certainly hope that their partnership can once again provide great quality as they work alongside each other on the action/adventure film.
British directors very rarely release horror films of the quality of Salvage, and for those that love their horror this is most definitely a must see film. Salvage impresses massively in all areas, and when the film is brought to DVD on March 22nd it really is one that you should quickly seek to add to your collection.
Although still only in his twenties, American director Antonio Campos has already been able to impress a lot of people with his work, with several short films under his belt as well as this full length feature Afterschool. Campos won the Cinefondation award at the Cannes Film Festival with his 2005 short film But It Now, and despite his young age is really making a mark on the world of cinema. Afterschool is Campos’ first full length film and yet you wouldn’t know it to watch it; Antonio Campos is an obviously talented director with a clear vision for what he wants to achieve with his work.
Robert is an awkward young student at a prep school in America; Robert finds it difficult to interact with others and spends much of his time watching violent and pornographic videos on the internet. Whilst filming around the school for an afterschool filmmaking class, Robert accidently catches on tape the drug induced deaths of two fellow students. Having witnessed their deaths, Robert is chosen to put together a memorial video for the girls and interviews a number of people about them, including fellow students, their parents, and the headmaster.
Antonio Campos captures Robert’s awkward nature perfectly with Afterschool, with actor Ezra Miller really able to play the part of Robert well. Robert is an incredibly creepy character, and through his camerawork here Antonio Campos really brings the key protagonist to life. The quality of acting from Ezra Miller is top class, and this combined with the supreme direction of Antonio Campos really does provide for a hugely impressive film.
Campos has plenty to be proud of with Afterschool, and given the quality of this film he is without doubt a director to watch out for in the future. Antonio Campos is unashamed of his influences, is clearly clued up when it comes to filmmaking, and belies his relative inexperience here with a very impressively put together drama. Antonio Campos may not be a name that you’ve come across in the past, looking to the future though and there’s surely plenty more to come from this highly skilled New York filmmaker.
For those that enjoyed The Day After Tomorrow, Shinji Higuchi’s Sinking of Japan is another film that should certainly appeal. With hugely impressive special effects and excellent character development, Sinking of Japan is a disaster film that is most definitely well worth watching, and the acting quality here is always of an exceptional standard.
As major earthquakes begin to hit Japan it doesn’t take the geological experts long to realise that the country is in serious danger, and the authorities are alerted as it’s calculated that there’s less than a year to go before that Japan will be fully submerged under the sea. The government keeps the situation quiet at first, as large areas of the country begin to get wiped out the time arrives for them to act fast however and they begin to make plans to send as many people overseas as possible. Although the countries future is at threat, all hope is not yet lost as there is a way of solving the problem and stopping Japan from becoming any further damaged by nature; the procedure to stop Japan from sinking is high risk, it is however possible that Japan can be saved.
Kou Shibasaki and Mayuko Fukuda both play their parts brilliantly in Sinking of Japan, and it’s their developing relationship that is at the very centre of the film. Their characters have been extremely well developed here, and their incredibly high quality of acting really does make this film special. Not only is the film visually impressive, but cerebrally engaging also, and the film easily manages to maintain your interest for the entirety of its 135 minute runtime. The only thing that doesn’t seem to work particularly well is the choice of song in what should be an extremely poignant scene; the scene should be highly emotive and could have been excellent, the accompanying track however just doesn’t work. Were it pure instrumental then the effect would perhaps have been greater, for two full minutes the track plays though and just really breaks the film up; this I feel would be my only cause for complaint about the film, and this I feel is an area in which the film could have been improved.
For fans of disaster films I really would recommend watching Sinking of Japan, and for those that follow extreme weather this is a film that would surely appeal. Shinji Higuchi truly has done a cracking job with this film, and all credit must also go to Sakyo Komatsu, the writer of the novel Japan Sinks on which the film is based, and the screenplay writer Masato Kato also. All involved with Sinking of Japan combine together to make the film special, and this is no doubt a film to add to your rental list at the very least.
First time director Yosuke Fujita has done a very good job with Fine, Totally Fine, picking a strong cast of actors and putting together a rather impressive comedy. There’s something really very likeable about the film, with Yosiyosi Arakawa’s performance as Teruo particularly impressive.
Teruo is the son of a bookshop owner, whilst he works in his father’s shop he has dreams of creating the world’s scariest haunted house however, and is forever testing out scary pranks on his friends and family to see how they’ll react. When Akari (Yoshino Kimura) gets a job working at the bookshop, Teruo starts developing feelings for her but his good friend Hisanobu (Yoshinori Okada) also finds himself attracted to her and friction therefore develops between the two of them as they both look to win her love and affection.
Fine, Totally Fine has some great moments of comedy, and with some excellent central characters Yosuke Fujita manages to establish himself strongly as both a writer and director with this film. Yosiyosi Arakawa plays his awkward character to perfection here, and Yoshino Kimura as the incredibly clumsy Akari also works extremely well. Yoshinori Okada’s performance as Hisonobu is overshadowed a little by the excellence of both Yoshino Kimura and Yosiyosi Arakawa , he still plays his part well though, managing to put across a great sense of life in his character.
Whilst Fine, Totally Fine could be described as a romantic comedy, to label the film as such would almost certainly give people the wrong idea; Fine, Totally Fine is not your typical romantic comedy, and if you don’t generally enjoy romantic comedy films then that doesn’t necessarily means that you won’t like this one. With some great acting and fine quirky comedy, Fine, Totally Fine is a film that most people will probably enjoy; place your genre issues aside and watch Fine, Totally Fine with an open mind and a great deal of enjoyment is bound to be had.
There’s a very natural feel about Fine, Totally Fine, an excellent achievement for Yosuke Fujita with his writing and directorial debut. There’s not a single character introduced here that feels forced, just a great flow about the film and the way in which the plot line unfolds. Fine, Totally Fine is an absolutely brilliant debut effort from Yosuke Fujita, and having already gone on to write and direct the teleplay Saba since finishing this film; I’m sure that Yosuke Fujita is a Japanese director that we will be hearing plenty more from in the future.