Monday, November 25, 2013

Contracted (2013)

Director – Eric England
Writers – Eric England
Production Company – BoulderLight Pictures, Southern Fried Films
Stars – Najarra Townsend

I made a list of all the movies I wanted to see that are fairly new, one of them was Contracted, written and directed by Eric England.  I was super excited to watch it, but ready for it to suck because often excitement = let down.  I was very pleasantly surprised, I really liked this film.  I want go all love on it, but super liked.

Najarra Townsend is our lead named Samantha, she was just great.  Samantha isn't the most likable girl on the planet.  She has some issues such as being a bitch, but – it’s all acceptable if you ask me.  She has a mother who is overbearing, due to Samantha’s past drug use.  She has a relationship with her first ever girlfriend that’s definitely at its end, and she also has to deal with multiple advances from men she’s not interested in.  She’s just at a very awkward place in her life, she's going through stuff.

Light Spoilers

At a party thrown by her friend Alice, Samantha makes a reluctant appearance.  She spends most of the party being very gloomy wishing that her uncaring girlfriend would make an appearance but that never happens.  Alice being one of those peppy party pushers gets Samantha to drink a little to lighten the mood, Samantha wasn't game from the get-go – I attribute this to the fact that Samantha is obviously trying to overcome whatever substance abuse issues she had in her past.

Late into the night Samantha meets BJ, who you’ll have already met in the very first scene in the movie – though you hadn't seen his face.  BJ hands Samantha a drink that she left sitting on a table, except it’s not really Samantha’s drink – you can guess what happens to young ladies who accept drinks from strangers.  They end up hot and heavy in a car, Samantha is reluctant (rape), but the deed is done.

The next morning it all goes downhill for Samantha.  Now let me talk about one thing that will probably make people hate this movie.  Lots of horrific things start happening to Samantha’s body.  I know some people will for sure be flabbergasted that she doesn't make it to the hospital ER but I really didn't find this to be a flaw myself. 

Ask yourself how many times something crappy happened to you, and you just waited to see if it would get better, praying it would magically disappear?  Maybe if you just waited a few more days, it would clear up on its own.  Now add onto this that the reason you’re having issues is because you had unprotected sex during a black out drink fest??  Add on to this that you’re in love with a girl who doesn't love you, and you had unprotected sex that you don’t want her to find out about – since it also involves a man.

If you can’t wrap your head around that, you will also be mad at her friends and family for not marching her straight to a clinic.  I also offer you up an explanation for this.  Samantha is a former drug user, her family and friends have seen her in very shitty states, her look is shocking at various points – but drugs do crazy things to people’s appearances and in today’s world lots of “ugliness” gets overlooked.

So over the course of 3 days, it’s a very fast infection - Samantha battles intense bleeding, sporadic nail loss, and freakish eye issues.  The make-up is spot on, and delightful!  Samantha/Najarra and her petite frame were decorated perfectly, I appreciate that Samantha was not some over the top sexy girl too – nothing I hate more than sexy for the sake of sexy..especially if the movie has a more serious tone.


Moving through her body fast the infection starts attacking her brain, or Samantha’s just driven crazy from what’s happening to her.  The last few scenes involve a former “friendly” stalker who finally gets his dream hookup with Samantha, but given her precarious state I’m just going to have to say he must really dig Samantha, and he’ll pay for that.

The last shot in the movie is perfect to me, it’s big, it’s punchy, and suggests something bigger that could be happening and maybe Samantha’s just the first peg.

Really - Really liked it.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home (2013)

Director – John K.D. Graham
Writers – Andrew Boylan
Production Company – MirrorTree Productions
Stars – Alexandra Boylan

*Please note there was another movie that came out with the exact same name in 2013, don't get the two confused!*

Home Sweet Home is dull, predictable, and made me chuckle.  There is nothing good I can really focus on in this movie except for the location, which was beautiful.  The script, acting, and music were awful in my opinion.

In our opening scene we’re presented with two characters named Kristi and Van, they’re robbing a convenient store – think Natural Born Killers style for this pair but with acting not nearly as good!

Next Scene we meet Gwen (Alexandra Boylan) she’s the lead character, and again the acting is pretty awful.  Gwen is broke and unable to find a job, she calls up her brother and he suggests she goes to their parent’s house and sort out their belongings since they died over a year ago.


Gwen’s almost there when she stops for some coffee at a store, she dings the car next to her with the car door and Kristi happens to be loitering outside and gives Gwen a big ole stink over it.  Kristi’s character comes off as too cool for school, and it is super UNBELIEVABLE and over the top.  Gwen leaves as soon as possible, it’s obvious to her that Kristi has a few screws loose.

Gwen arrives at her parent’s house and pokes around, and that very first night she gets a knock on her door – you can probably guess who it is.  It’s Kristi and Van, they have been squatting in her parent’s house and Kristi is crazy angry over Gwen coming and taking this house back over. 

And here’s where we get to see lots of "I have a cell phone that works and my legs also work but I really can’t be bothered with such things movie."

Gwen has a cell phone, this cell phone pretty much works 85% of the movie, Gwen never calls 911 – she calls the police sure, but girlfriend just asks to leave a message for an old friend there.  THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! At least have the cell phone NOT work if it’s going to be part of the story.

Gwen is drugged by the couple, they choose to go have sex and sleep the night away, just leaving old Gwen on the couch to sleep too.  They never tie her up or restrain her, oh wait…they do cut off some of her hair for fun!!  Gwen is freaked out by this, freaked out but she never ever runs away!!!! Never, Never, Never!  She keeps to the house, the RV, and an old shack with random tools.  She has at least 200 times where she could have simply run up the road and escaped.  Dear lord!

During all of this hiding and random freaking out, Kristi is just calm and collected, it’s like a comedy watching this character as she pretends to be this sexy over the top lunatic, it’s really bad version of Mallory Knox.

Eventually Gwen gets the upper hand with Van, she manages to cut off a few fingers and then Kristi decides to off him since he’s of no use to her anymore – shoot he wasn’t receptive to Kristi’s new plan to go and live the good life in Florida!   We end with Kristi chasing Gwen around a little more and Gwen managing to coax her into a small closet where she locks her in.  Then Gwen leans against the closet door and takes a nap or something…she still does not run or call for help.

Gwen’s brother shows up eventually and puts Kristi in handcuffs, who doesn’t carry handcuffs? I keep a spare in my car for situations like this.  He places Kristi in his car, and she puts on her seduce face and seems to take some sort of psycho sexual power over the brother.  I imagine that they probably drive to Florida from here.

The end. Oh wait, Gwen drives away separately, the end.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eden Lake (2008)

Director – James Watkins
Writers – James Watkins
Production Company – Rollercoaster Films, Aramid Entertainment Fund
Stars - Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell

Eden Lake is another flick that garners lots of love, and ranks highly around the inter webs.  I was super excited to see this one because I keep trusting that high marks on IMDB will mean I’m going to love a movie.  I can’t say I loved this one, but I'll sprinkle in a couple of things I enjoyed.

Eden Lake starts out by introducing us to a couple named Jenny and Steve. Steve is on the verge of asking Jenny to marry him and decides to take her to a woodsy location that’s soon to become luxury homes.  They’re a normal and cute couple.

Once they arrive and spend a few hours together at Eden Lake, a band of motley teenagers decides to hang out at the location too.  Loud music, dog snarling,  and genital exposing are enough to make me leave a location I’m hoping to relax in, but not Jenny and Steve, guess they’re in it for the long haul. 


Now for something I find illogical for an adult to do.  Jenny and Steve go in to town to eat, leaving the lake for an hour or two.  Steve spies the teenagers and follows them to their house.  Steve then gets all hot-headed and  breaks in to their house to confront them?  I really cannot see an adult doing this – it just does not fit in with normal 35-40 year old behavior.

Back to the movie, Jenny and Steve go back to Eden Lake (L DUMB), spend the night, and wake up to find their car stolen.  They decide to walk back into town and are soon almost run down by our gang of teens in their car, the group meets up and Steve decides to talk some sense into the teens, this does not go well.  What really sets the teens off is when the group’s snarling dog accidentally launches onto the end of a knife and dies.

Here’s when we really get to see one of the best performances in my opinion, Brett played by Jack O’Connell.  He is one scary mofo, I would crap my pants if he was yelling at me (and he’s playing a teen).  He just seemed so black hearted and evil.  He’s lead in the gang for a reason.  He has the others on lock down and they do what Brett says or pay the price.

One of the best scenes happens after Jenny and Steve manage to get back their car, but crash it while speeding out from Eden Lake.  Steve coaxes Jenny out of the car and asks her to run for help.  When Steve’s captured Brett has each member of his little gang torture Steve just a bit so it can be captured on mobile phone video (filmed by the highly underused gang girl member, girl was creepy), by filming the attack Brett can't be the only one impacted if the groups caught.  Each member caves under his pressure.  I rather liked this scene, seeing Brett’s influence over the others was powerful.

So instead of running to get help while everyone is occupied, Jenny decides to simply camp out in the bushes all night.  Already haven proven her brain power she locates the GPS System Steve handed off to her after the crash, she somehow makes a call through the GPS that activates the bluetooth on Steve's Cell?? Steve's cell phone then starts ringing while the youths are all around him.  They grab the phone and know Jenny is nearby so they go after her.

Then they chase her a lot, all over Eden Lake.  She runs, she makes a noise, they hear it, run around some more etc.  You also get a nice little couple scene where Jenny and Steve reunite and she finds the engagement ring and they get all mushy etc.  NO NO NO!  I hate this as much as making out during a zombie apocalypse.
But I have another good thing to add in here, since I’ve been hating a little.  The score is awesome, I knew when I was watching it I was having flashbacks to The Descent for a reason.  David Julyan is the composer and he’s done other films such as The Descent, Momento, and The Cabin in the Woods.  Great music - this guy is mighty talented and identifiable because of that talent.

So as Jenny is running some more she manages to off one of the gang members – Go Jenny!  Too bad it’s the brother of the guy Jenny finds when she finally manages to reach a road.  She hops in the guy’s car as he’s actually coming into Eden Lake to fetch his brother for dinner! YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME.  So of course this guy drives her ALL the way back - but then being awesome Jenny steals the car when he hops out to call for his brother.

Then Jenny pretty much drives to town like a bat out of hell.  She manages to find some help. It’s just really unfortunate that the help she finds is Brett’s family.  Yep, she ends up at the same house Steve broke into earlier to confront the teens.

End of story is Brett is bad because his dad is an abusive dick, deep. 

This movie looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, but it’s just not a duck.  Like most, the actions of the characters are a major set-back and what happens to them is just too much coincidence. I also have one more thing to add, can we please dress Jenny is something other than a damn baby doll dress?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

American Mary (2012)

Director – Jen & Sylvia Soska, or the Soska Sisters.
Writers – Jen & Sylvia Soska
Production Company – Industry Works, American Mary Productions, Evolution Pictures
Stars - Katharine Isabelle

American Mary is a one of a kind little horror movie, I didn’t want it to end!  Free spirited, nontraditional, and eccentric are just a few of the words I would use to describe this flick.  There was a weak ending in my opinion, but I’m letting it slide because this movie was all about the ride not the destination.

Mary is a young promising medical student hoping to become a surgeon.  She’s a hard worker and seemingly adored by her instructors.  Like many people going through years of expensive schooling she finds herself in financial turmoil, Mary starts looking for a way to make extra cash to continue her schooling.  So with her desire to gain some financial security she decides to answer an ad to become an escort.

Mary ends up at a very seedy strip joint where she meets Billy the owner, they’re not too far into the “interview” when something comes up and Mary’s medical skills come into play.  Mary’s offered a significant amount of money to help Billy, she just needs to perform surgery or a dying man that’s been brought into the club…and so it begins. 


Mary soon finds that surgeons are needed in all areas of life, after her first on the fly surgery she’s lured in to a new world of body modification due to someone witnessing her save the man at the bar.  It’s a dark, hidden world where Mary’s knife skills, the need to keep things secretive, and the chunk of change she can earn work well together.

You meet some insane little characters along the way, and as strange and shocking as they are - I felt like the film did a pretty good job of letting us see their desperation in needing these body modifications.  Sure it’s not what’s considered normal, but with the extreme lengths they were willing to go you could see that these weren’t just piercings or tattoos to them.  These were changes they needed made in order for them to be the person that they felt they were inside.

And then it happens, something that sets Mary off and makes her choose to go all the way with her new career in body modification, ditching school.  I have to say it would be cool if one day it wasn’t just rape that set a woman off – but I still really loved this flick and it was so inventive with all the trappings around it that I’ll let it slide.

After she’s raped, Mary quits school and decides to fully pursue her new found venture.  She dives in head first and has quite the little business going on in no time.  There’s a little revenge sprinkled in here too, not the best part of the movie in my opinion.  Revenge rape thrillers are done constantly, what I liked about this movie was that the rape resulted in Mary taking on something she was wonderful at, something that was shocking and believable at the same time, something that made her a superstar but would also be her undoing. 

Now for the flaws, we have a few characters that we’re introduced to that could have added a lot to the movie but instead they seem sort of thrown in to me.  We have a very sympathetic detective investigating the disappearance of a nasty sexual deviant surgeon, Mary’s “former” teacher.  He seems to have caught on to Mary being a part of his disappearance but that’s as far as that goes.  I think he could have been incorporated more in to the story.  My thoughts were to have him be the angel on Mary’s shoulder, or have him even get his feet wet into Mary’s world, shoot, she’s hard to resist.

The ending - I thought the ending was terrible, it’s shot gorgeously but it was a complete let down.  I did not want the movie to end, and when the ending sucks on top of you wanting the movie to be longer, you get sad. Mary’s met at home one day by a former client’s husband - he had only been in the movie for like 1 minute’s time before he gets to have his moment.  I just think he and the back story he had isn’t explored enough for him to be the nail in the coffin.

Overall I love the look and feel of this film, it was pretty inventive and Mary (Katharine Isabelle) is straight up Awesome.  I would not recommend this to everyone, it’s for people who love fantasy type horror set it the real world.  Great ride..

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Saw The Devil (2010)

Director – Kim Je-Woon
Writers – Hoon-jung Park
Production Company – Softbank Ventures,Showbox/Mediaplex, Peppermint & Company.


I Saw the Devil has been in my newly formed Netflix queue for only a week or so, I’ve ready so many good reviews that I bumped it up to the top so I could watch it immediately.  I was not disappointed – it has some amazing characters in it like an inhuman serial killer, a cruel cannibal, and revenged determined Secret Agent.
The basic plot circles around Kim Soo-hyeon played by Byung-hun Lee who is brilliant playing a very methodical, emotional driven, stone cold all over your butt Secret Agent who is out for revenge.  Kim is out for revenge because his pregnant girlfriend’ who is also the daughter of the Police Chief, is brutally murdered while waiting for some help one night when her car broke down.

Min-sik Choi plays the other main character Kyung-chul, and man does he knock it out of the park as a brutal serial killer.  Kim is hushed, disciplined, and systematic and Kyung-chul is his complete opposite being thoughtless, unusual, and bold.

Kim decides to hunt Kyung-chul, and hunt he does.  Kim starts a very nice game of cat and mouse so that he can not only take revenge on Kyung-chul for his girlfriends’ murder, but so that he can also perhaps get some real emotion from Kyung-chul – I think nothing would feel better to Kim then to have Kyung plead for his life and beg for forgiveness..this is something that Kyung-chul is incapable of though.


Kim implants Kyung-chul with a tracking device so this is how he can keep track of the sick killer, Kim is always listening in and Kyung-chul even knowing he is being hunted boldly still finds new victims.  He’s sick, so this cat and mouse chase is mostly a new high for him, I think this hurts Kim greatly – seeing that his “revenge” is almost pleasure for Kyung-chul.

The scene – there is one scene with Kyung-chul is a car with two others that is shot so freaking fabulously I wish I could have been there to see how it was done.  It’s fast, bloody, and dazzling – very imaginative.  You’ll know it when you see it.

Now there’s a lot of Kim beat’s up Kyung-chul then releases him back into the world, but I think it’s methodically done so that you can see the determination of Kim to inflict physical and emotional pain but also so that you can see the Kyung-chul has no soul and that Kim will have to reach far beyond this type of revenge to force Kyung to feel anything.

At a certain point Kyung-chul takes full control of Kim’s game, let’s just say his depravity was underestimated and Jyung-chul inflicts even more pain on Kim – but as a viewer you will expect nothing less from him.  We have the pleasure of seeing Kyung-chul take some hits to his manhood via Kim but the displeasure of viewing the way these hits simply pump up Kyung-chul to try and sacrifice himself to deal a superior perfect blow to Kim…let’s just say it doesn’t quite go as planned.

Kim does take back the reigns at the end, and he even manages to find something pure from Kyung-chuls past to make a reappearance…and  in the end maybe this one thing that Kyung-chul cares about gets to take a last step in Kim’s revenge.

Great flick! This movie is pretty darn long but when you have such awesome characters I like to feel their pain and inter-workings, you need time to do this! I really enjoyed Kim Je-Woons work.  He’s made a fan of me and I’ll be looking forward to seeking out more of his work.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Undocumented (2010)

Director - Chris Peckover
Writers - Chris Peckover, Joe Peterson
Production Company - Sheperd Glen Productions

The story idea behind Undocumented is a pretty fantastic one, very inventive, and a lot could have been done with it.  That being said, I think the movie was Terrible with a capital T.

The premise is a handful of college kids, all US citizens are making a documentary about Mexicans, crossing into the US illegally.  While crossing over and being bused to a final location in the trip, they’re (College kids and the Mexicans) bombarded by a group of militant US citizens who want to make these people suffer for trying to cross illegally.  They do this not only to punish the people they’ve captured, but to use it as a warning against future offenders crossing illegally.  Simple story - and great set-up if you ask me.

Once the group is brought to the facility that the militants call home, the college kids are asked to continue their documentary, albeit the premise has changed a bit.  They’re now asked to focus on the militant group and how they’re helping to stop the onslaught of illegal immigration.  Up to this point, I like the plot– no damage done and I’m waiting for it to get real good.  


There was one scene in particular that just seemed really over the top to me.  Picture this - you have a small stage where there’s a chair.  Behind that chair is a large American flag backdrop.  One of the illegals is placed into that chair, and his wife is placed in some crazy torture device in front of him.  The main militant in charge then starts firing off immigration type questions to the illegal immigrant, for every question he gets wrong his wife is tortured. Let’s just say he doesn’t get may questions right. This whole scene reminded me of a game show, I felt the film was trying to be serious and this scene made me laugh.  I wanted the militants to be serious, be careful, be neat, and have a very systematic way of “torturing” the immigrants for their cause. 

Another scene has you meet a few of the other militants and one of them has the job of messing up dead illegal bodies to place in the underground tunnel that runs below the border in order to scare other illegals.  Dumb.  He’s very proud of his work!

Oh… and this one time, one of the college kids gets high on some drugs, because he was getting branded from the militants and they offered him some pain relief.  Well after he’s branded they decide to throw a fiesta with music and a pinata - Travis (college kid) beats the crap out of this pinata, with a nail studded bat!  Of course the militants had placed one of the other college kids in the pinata, so Travis did not have such a great fiesta once he found that out. Dumb.

People kiss in the midst of all of this, I always find this dumb!!!  Please movie directors, if you’re one/two days into a horrific experience I really can’t see kissing being on anybody’s mind!!

There was ONE cool part, something that made my stomach churn.  There were a couple of children caught up in all this, and the Militants just release them from the facility to face the dessert on their own.  I have kids, so this made me envision my own child just released into an unknown, unforgiving, dry terrain -so that idea really stuck a cord.

Now back to dumb.  In the beginning of the film our documentary crew interviews some people before their illegal border crossing trip – This includes a local family of some people who will be crossing the border and a businessman who exploits illegals.  Well our militant patriots also manage to go find these people outside of the facility and bring them to there for some “fun”.  I mean really?  They’re out in the dessert somewhere and this militant group just goes out and kidnaps people already in the US?  Really???  This film did not make the militants bad-ass enough to pull this off if you ask me.

I think the general idea behind Undocumented is a great set-up for a great movie, it just was not this version.  The acting is alright, the overall look is decent, but the details for the story are overly dramatic and the militants are like bad cartoon characters.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Deadgirl (2008)

Director - Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel
Writers - Trent Haaga
Production Company - HollywoodMade

Deadgirl is a movie about two discontented teenage boys – that’s the basic premise.  I can’t exactly call this a horror movie, for me it was more about exploring the two teens and how they navigate through a world where they are not fully accepted and welcomed in.  I think if you go into the movie with this in mind, not thinking it’s a straight up horror movie you can focus on the characters and enjoy the movie for what it is.

Rickie and JT are best friends.  Rickie is the introverted, quiet, follower type and JT is the more extroverted, outgoing, leader type.  Both are on the outskirts of their high school, neither popular and they don’t exactly follow a crowd.  They’re their own group and Rickie definitely idolizes JT.


They skip school one day to drink some beers and generally bitch about life. They set up shop in an old abandoned hospital.  In the hospital they find a dead girl, well a “zombie” girl that is.  This is where our characters start playing very different roles.  JT is all about keeping this dead girl for himself and his lusty needs, but to me it’s not all about lust – my reading between lines also says this girl represents him taking control and taking what he thinks he’s entitled since his station in life hasn’t afforded him popularity, girls, riches etc.  Rickie’s not into it at all, he voices his objections but does not do much to stop JT.

What follows are days and weeks of watching JT spiral out of control, he becomes a different person.  He’s obsessed with the dead girl, like most people who get what they think they wanted it molds him into a complete monster.  Some might say he was a monster before because he chose to enslave the dead girl in first place - but if you can accept his first decision to enslave this girl as the ball that started rolling things downhill, you can watch his decent into complete madness from that point.

While all that is going on you get a nice peak into the world of Rickie.  You get to observe this reserved guys love infatuation with a child hood friend JoAnn (and he has a very unhealthy love for her, he thinks they have something but he’s very wrong and hanging on to old child hood memories…that JoAnn doesn’t give any thought to), you observe his lack of good home life, and he starts coming out of his shell – just a wee bit.  Perhaps witnessing such debauchery from JT finally ignited something in him?  I like that he reaches out to JoAnn more, and let’s JoAnn know his feelings for her – but it’s sad that he can’t save himself from the rejection.  Rickie is definitely obsessed and blinded in his own ways.

You can only guess that things really get out of control eventually –The secret of the dead girl starts to spread, through an admission by an angered and beaten Wheeler, Johnny and his jock friend, Dwyer force Rickie and Wheeler to reveal the dead girl. Let’s just say the jocks don’t fare well (even they’re pressured into victimizing the dead girl. JT does some obvious pushing but here even Rickie joins in since even he wants to inflict pain on Johnny the jock, JoAnn’s boyfriend. 

What we end up with is a ravaged jock and disfigured dead girl.   Johnny the jock deals with some very unpleasant affects from his meeting with dead girl, and JT deals with finding a replacement for dead girl.  One of the funniest moments in the film is when JT and Wheeler try to kidnap a girl at the gas station – LOL funny.

The last 20-30 minutes pump it up.  JoAnn (Rickie’s crush) is brought into the fold while she was trying to figure out what happened to her love – the jock.  JoAnn ends up at the mental hospital with Rickie, JT, Wheeler, and the dead girl.  JoAnn is set-up to be dead girl’s replacement since JT and Wheeler couldn’t successfully complete that task at the gas station.

In the end JT has an epic meltdown, and dead girl breaks free taking care of both JT and Wheeler – she also manages to get a hold of JoAnn and turns her.  Rickie’s still alive after the hospital showdown and is then shown taking perfect care of the new “dead girl”…his own obsession can now be realized.

<END Spoiler>

I think Deadgirl is a darn good flick.  There’s great camera work throughout and the characters are well developed and over the top just to make sure you understand their placement in life.  If you can handle the premise in general, I think you’ll find this movie has a lot to say about growing up, societal hierarchy, and peer pressure.  Give it a go.