Review: Don Wraps Up Fantasia 2017

 

So, the time has come and the Fantasia Festival 2017 is now over, with this being the last day of movies being screened; so let’s take a look at several of the films premiered during the course of the festivals’ run:

 

Punk Fu Zombie
Announcing his presence with a vengeance, Canadian filmmaker Gabriel Claveau has provided his first feature film as a decidedly overt homage to a host of glorious B-films of the past as is widely evident in Punk Fu Zombie. Bravely mixing sharp political commentary with the splattery B-movie glory days of the past, the film shows all the signs of being a classic in the hallowed circles of it’s own insulated fandom.

Hochelaga, Quebec, Canada, 2048. It’s been over 20 years since Quebec finally gained independence through the efforts of a movement led by the powerful Charles Maurice (Stéphane Messier). His eventual rise to Prime Minister, however, may not have been all that legal. This major political upheaval will shake up the social classes and bring out demonic creatures that attack the population. One man will become the beacon of peace amongst the chaos overtaking this new country. That man is Zach (Xavier Dumontier) Charles’s son, an irresponsible bum who becomes the leader of an elite team whose mission is to re-establish peace between the ninjas, punks and rat-people who are trying to survive this zombie infestation. Growing up during this adventure, Zach will quickly discover that the enemies aren’t necessarily who they seem and that his dad may not be the messiah he built himself up to be.

Frankly, this one wasn’t all that bad but doesn’t really have all that much to really like. One of the best aspects here is the enthusiasm this one dives into the material with, coming with the idea of the zombie invasion and a post-apocalyptic storyline all set alongside some rather nice social commentary concerning the government’s treatment of the citizens. That does manage to get some great zombie action here with the troops encountering them out in the wilderness and the big final showdown where the true threat leads the remaining zombies against the last troops left which really allows this one to wallow in plenty of silly special effects featuring all the limbs being ripped off, the blood spurting in streams and splashing all over the place while the terrible CGI for the laser blasts, explosions and other inclusions make for a fun time with the inherent goofiness of it all. The fact that this one is so goofy and silly might be an issue for some, and along with the really troublesome final half that seems to wander through way too many ideas without the budget to cover it all, this one does get lowered because of these issues yet doesn’t really detract it all that much.

Punk Fu Zombie had it’s premiere screening July 18, 2017 at the Fantasia Festival.

2/5 Zombie Heads

 

 

 

Kodoku Meatball Machine
One of the biggest names in the underground Japanese splatter scene, director Yoshihiro Nishimura has crafted a career for himself directing or providing the effects for a slew of over-the-top, high-energy exploitation affairs that mix bizarre imagery, cyberpunk ideals and messy, grotesque splatter effects. His newest directorial effort, Kodoku: Mîtobôru mashin, or known internationally as Kodoku Meatball Machine, is a worthy sequel to the original film that kickstarted the Japanese splatter genre.

Lonely Yuji Noba (Youji Tanaka, from “Kill Bill 1 & 2”) only wants to gain the affection of bookkeeper Kaoru Mita (Yurisa.) who he sees everyday. Struggling in his job, he soon finds his life complicated by the arrival of a strange alien ship in the Tokyo sky. Shortly afterward, the ship releases a strange organism into the city which starts to turn the citizens into a mixture of human and insectoid alien beings who begin to tear both each other and the unturned citizens to pieces in gory fashion. Himself partly turned due to the cancer in his body keeping him from being a full-on creature, he decides to fight off the creatures in order to save the woman he loves who is still left alive in the city.

Frankly, this is one of the craziest and most bizarre films in Nishimura’s catalog. Much like the original, this one trades on a never-ending series of utterly extreme, over-the-top gore gags that are just insane, focusing on the prosthetic effects for the cyborg creatures which are as colorful, unique and creative as can be expected. The deformed creatures, a fantastic mixture of cybernetic alien parts over their human frame which results in some utterly unique and downright bizarre deformities that pile on the screen with such ravenous creativity that it really prevents this one from ever dragging or featuring any kind of lull. As well, that it features some of the craziest, most jaw-dropping action scenes that ever occurred that are filled to the brim with some great gore-gags throughout here which provides plenty of high-intensity delirious thrills. The main issue here is that there’s such a nonsensical and confusing ending tacked on where it shows the bizarre alien infomercial gives this a rather obvious tonal shift that’s rather a downer to end this on. Beyond this, there’s not much to dislike here.

Kodoku Meatball Machine had it’s premiere screening July 21, 2017 at the Fantasia Festival.

4.5/5 Zombie Heads

 

 

 

Broken Sword Hero
It should be noted from the very beginning that this is clearly a vehicle for 4-time Muay Thai champion Buakau Banchamek, as he employs so much screentime here that director Bin Bunluerit is not at fault for committing to him as the country’s next Tony Jaa. An absolutely close call does come here, but it’s not for trying as this Thai effort, Thong Dee Fun Kao or Broken Sword Hero, brings his skills to the forefront considerably.

During the Ayothaya period, young Joi (Buakau Banchamek, from “The Sword of Ayothaya”) finds himself continually at odds with Cherd, (Nantawut Boonrubsub) the governor’s son who continually beats him down. By the time he’s reached the age of adulthood, their battles are now so one-sided that Cherd commissions an entire army to help him deal with his enemy and forces him into hiding deep in the jungles of Thailand where he changes his name to Thong Dee to avoid his captors. Training with various masters of the craft, he learns various forms of Muay Thai which enhance his skills to the point of him being able to take on his age-old enemy one last time for the fate of the country.

In terms of being a showcase for Banchamek’s Muay Thai skills, this one certainly works exceptionally well. His continuous fighting, from the opening montages showing him beating up the guards or other fighters around the villages, the forest battle when he saves the traveling camp under attack or the spectacular final battle that forces all his skills to be put to the test, the amount of full-contact martial arts prowess on display here is rather fun. The story is basically an extension for allowing that to happen as being constantly trailed and letting the fights develop from the army on his every step, but it draws up a distressing plot point. This develops into going from one boxing camp, spars with the master’s best student as an audition, trains, gets into a bigger fight and then moves on to the next one in order to save them which gives this an incredibly scattershot story. Granted, you’re supposed to be focusing on his throwing elbows into peoples’ faces or kicking someone in the stomach those themself are somewhat disappointing by the fact that there’s way too much slow-motion during these scenes which does lower their impact only slightly since there’s still a lot to like about this one overall in spite of these issues.

The effort screened July 23, 2017 at the Fantasia Festival.

3.5/5 Zombie Heads

 

 

 

The Night Watchmen
After a minor departure away from the genre, Mitchell Altieri, one-half of the popular late-2000s horror directing duo The Butcher Brothers alongside Phil Flores, finally returns to the genre once again with the spectacular horror comedy The Night Watchman. Offering plenty of humor alongside it’s horror-based thrills, the acclaimed effort finds itself a part of the prestigious Fantasia Festival.

Just starting a new job, ‘Rajeeve’ (Max Grey Wilbur, from ‘Thrill Kill’) joins up with the other night-watchmen in his stead, Ken (Ken Arnold, from ‘Lovely Molly’) Jiggetts (Kevin Jiggetts, from ‘Law & Order: SVU’) and Luca (Dan De Luca, from ‘Crazy Eights’) to work the nightshift at a local warehouse. When they receive a strange casket delivery by accident, the inept group finds that a series of strange incidents around them has them convinced something strange is going on, and it soon dawns on the group that a gang of clowns killed in an overseas accident have been turned into vicious vampires and begun feeding on the staff. Soon, with only Karen (Kara Luiz, from ‘Jerks with Cameras’) left alive with them, they must band together to save the city from the vampire threat.

This was quite the entertaining vampire-based comedy. This does have a great sense of comedy with the group being so inept and lazy that it really provides some nice laughs that really carries throughout the whole film once they become involved with the vampires. Letting this one stay trapped in the warehouse and featuring plenty of encounters that are rather nice and bloody, this one moves along rather nicely with a pronounced threat that still has a lot of laughs. The vampires are vicious and aggressive, giving this the kind of imposing threat that’s at the forefront of the film and also provides this one with some nice bloodshed as well. There’s a few flaws to be found, starting with a few rather lame gags and storylines that don’t need to be there because the film is so short and doesn’t really stand-out all that much. However, there’s not a whole lot else to really hold this one down.

The Night Watchman premiered on the festival screens August 2, 2017.

4/5 Zombie Heads

 

Interview: Peter Ricq (Dead Shack, Fantasia 2017)

The Don interviews the director of Dead Shack, Peter Ricq.

 

 

DA: Hello, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. What can you tell us about your new film Dead Shack?

PR: Dead Shack is a Horror film with a lot of comedy moments in the vein of Evil Dead 2, An American Werewolf in London, Reanimator and Fright Night.

DA: Where did the inspiration for the film come from? Where there any unique stories about it’s conception?

PR: I was trying to develop these 80 million dollar movies for many years and knew that it was never going to happen. After watching the Fright Night remake in theatres, it reminded me how much fun those types of movies were and how they affected me as a child. I remembered how many small horror films were some of my favourite films of all time and that I’ve watched them over and over again growing up. I went home and wrote the outline to Dead Shack in three days, did nothing else and wrote it knowing that I wanted very little locations and few characters like Evil Dead 2.

DA: How did you come to be attached to the project? Was this something you always wanted to do or were you brought on board later on?

PR: Quite the opposite, I was the one trying to get people attached to the project. It was never easy. Each step was a battle, no one wanted to be involved and so I worked harder to prove to people that that is something worth making.

DA: Coming from a heavy background in animated fare, was it a big step going to a live-action feature?

PR: I started doing live action music videos since 2007 for my bands HUMANS, Gang Signs and Ladyfrnd. The goal was always to learn on these music videos so that one day I could make the jump to a feature live action film.

DA: Did having your partners from the animated series involved in this film make for a smooth transition?

PR: Phil and Dav are my creative partners. We work on almost everything together and trust one another so it was always the plan to have them work on Dead Shack with me. It’s easy because we’ve done so many projects together since we met in university.

DA: Being a live-action film, did you come across any unexpected hardships while shooting the movie?

PR: Yeah, the cold was horrible. That was probably the worst, also the rain and mud where all the cars got stuck oh and then the snow.

DA: Were there any fun on-set stories about the filming that were especially memorable?

PR: There’s a lot of shots in the film where people had to step in as the kids because we couldn’t have them on set anymore. It was fun to have everyone play the kids at one point or another and in the end, you can’t even tell in the film.

DA: Now that the film is coming to film festivals, what’s the expected timeframe that others will be able to see this?

PR: I think it’ll be around Halloween but don’t quote me on that.

DA:. Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with our readers?

PR: Yeah, lots. HUMANS is releasing new videos and music leading up to a new album next year and so is Gang Signs. I’m finishing the sequel to Once Our Land. We are turning Once Our Land into a feature animated film. I am finishing a script to a Vampire Movie similar to Dead Shack. Phil, Dav and I are working on several other horror films one that is a hybrid between dazed and confused and The Thing. So yeah, lots to come!

 

 

 

Review: Savage Dog (Fantasia 2017)

Scott Adkins is Martin Tillman, an Irish prizefighter and prisoner in 1959 Indochina, a land clad with an array of criminals and danger of all kinds. While in prison, Martin fights in tournaments being gambled on by these criminals. When he is due for release, the four tyrants who run the jail want to keep him under their thumb and fighting; but Martin is not having it. When the “dog” turns “savage,” heads are going to roll.

Savage Dog is straight-up fun. Although ridden with cliched tropes expected in the fighting B-movie subgenre of the 80s and 90s (Bloodsport, Best of the Best and films of sort), Savage Dog is entertaining enough and well made to be a better than average action-packed revenge film. Written and directed by Jesse V. Johnson, Savage Dog has gore-geous special effects, a solid cast and swift pacing.

The supporting cast next to the on-point lead, Scott Adkins, adds to the charm of Savage Dog. Marko Zaror as the vile Rastignac the Enforcer and Vladimir Kulich as the warden, Steiner, were standouts as two of the four main antagonists. Their presence was looming throughout the film, as the actors honed in and brought these characters to life. I really disliked them, which is a success when creating a heel. Also on board for the flick is the legend, Keith David. I love Keith David; from Carpenter classics like The Thing and They Live, to his voiceovers in animated features and television. In Savage Dog he does a fine job portraying Valentine, a bar owner and the narrator of the exposition. Others on the cast do a sufficient job (Cung Le as Boon, Charles Fathy as Amarillo), while others have forced scenes at times (Juju Chan as Isabelle and Sheena Chou as Samsip-Sam). Regardless, they all come together and put on a successful performance.

The action sequences looked tough, bad-ass and were presented fluidly. The fighting scenes were choreographed with precision and come off as believable. The explosions and gunplay were reminiscent of 80s Missing in Action-esque, and added to the medium. The best part of the special effects was the gore factor, and boosts the overall rating. All the hounds out there will be excited with several scenes of bloodshed.

All in all, Jesse V. Johnson’a Savage Dog is certainly a standout in the genre. The script and direction, in addition to his skills and knowledge from being on the stunt side of filmmaking, make this movie have a specific thumbprint. I’ve never seen any other of his films, but I’m interested in seeing what else is in his repertoire and what will come in the future. Now playing at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, be on the lookout for this to be distributed soon.

3.5/5 Zombie Heads

Review: Rupture (2017)

From the opening minutes of the sci-fi thriller Rupture, it’s apparent viewers are inside the world of writer/director Steven Shainberg, who became an ​award-winning indie film sensation with 2002’s kink masterpiece ​Secretary, and now he plans to spank viewers harder with this new release.

The film follows Renee Morgan (Noomi Rapace of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Prometheus), a single mom who is deathly terrified of spiders. While in route to meet up with a friend, she is violently abducted by a group of strangers, including Michael Chiklis of FX’s The Shield and Fantastic Four and Kerry Bishe, from AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and Argo. After enduring intense yet strange questioning and examinations, some about her fear of spiders, Renee soon discovers that she is now the subject of an underground experiment headed by Terrence (Peter Stormare of The Big Lebowski, Fargo). Her captors explain to her that she has a genetic abnormality that can potentially allow her to “rupture” and reveal her alien nature, until finally Renee must find a way to escape before it is too late.

 

 

​Overall, this one was quite a disappointing offering. It strangely starts off on a high-note with Shainberg, still indulging in the kinky psychosexual morass that exuded off the screen in his first two features. The film’s first-half is mostly noted for the fact that Renee, whose abduction off the highway serves as every motorist’s worst nightmare with the efficiency and speed with which her captors pull her away without anyone noticing, finds her arms and legs handcuffed at odd angles inside the back of the moving truck and then having her head wrapped in black tape leaving slits for the eyes and nose. This distinctly recalls a lot of the warped antics from his first film and really sets this one in his familiar realm.

 

 

Once we arrive at the holding cell where the group begins to work their torments on her, the film begins working on some rather stylish horror elements that turns into a much darker opus. Utilizing the fear of the unknown incredibly well with the cold, imposing layout of the lab, their calm yet seemingly hostile treatment and the continuous off-screen sounds of torture inflicted on her neighboring captive gives this a nice creepy tone that’s only enhanced once she gets questioned and tormented; which give this the film’s best moments. The unease and unnerving quality of the situation is only elevated by the actual tormenting they put her through, giving her plenty of drugs, being subjected to venomous spiders crawling over her body and ultimately leading to the truth about her alien captors. But, it all bogs down with no real sense of tension or action at all, and gore fans as well are going to be disappointed with the lack of any blood at all here.

Now, there’s still quite a lot to like here. Overall, the look of the film is quite stylish, with the containment lab they hold her in usually bathed in light purple or golden tones, giving Rupture a cold, eerie feeling to match the actions performed. There’s plenty of genuine tension from the torture scenes, which have a lot going for them. They not only feature the group performing the different questioning methods on her, but also the scenes of her going through the air ducts of the facility, is where this one gets the chance to showcase those quite effectively; especially while the use of spiders on her generates some insanely creepy moments. Even the performances are effective, with Rapace offering a nice turn from confused and quivering housewife to displaying steel-nerves in the determination of her escape attempts, while the usual torture team of Chiklis and Bische go well together in their straight-faced resolve to get to the truth of this mission.

 

 

Although these here work nicely, it does have a few nagging quibbles. The main issue here is the fact that the problem of a ‘rupture’ is clearly a major issue of the the film; we get nothing about what exactly it is or what her tormentors are trying to do with her. It’s never clear what the intent behind their search is supposed to detail, as the entire organization is a complete mystery since we get nothing about them. There’s even scenes with the aliens themselves unsure of what’s going on, and that in turn simply furthers the confusing plot here, which is always problematic in films. Likewise, the entire point of going through a rupture is never explained and all we get are what happens to those who haven’t passed their tests, rather than why that process is important, leaving this one with some confusing issues here. Still, the biggest problem is the overall bland and uneventful finale, which is lifeless, dreadful and just ends on a truly downbeat finish that really should’ve required more action to support the storyline it wanted; instead, it comes off rather troubling.

 

AMBI Media Group will release the sci-fi thriller Rupture in theaters and On Demand April 28, 2017. The film is currently available exclusively on DirecTV.

 

 

2.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads



Review: Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher Film (Brooklyn Horror Film Festival)

psychotic-a-brooklyn-slasher-film

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the after party at the excellent Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. It was held at a bar called The Abbey in Williamsburg and upon entering I grabbed a beer and a shot and started to mingle. About two minutes in I ended up meeting and instantly hitting it off with two dudes, Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey. We immediately started discussing film and after a few more drinks I discovered they made their own film, called Psychotic!, and it was filmed in my hometown of Brooklyn. We agreed on a screener and an interview for the podcast and I was very excited to see what these two gentlemen put together. It is not often one meets two people who are genuine and enthusiastic about their project without being obnoxious and overbearing. At the same time, I was afraid because what if I didn’t like Psychotic!? That would be a shame, as I genuinely enjoyed hanging with these guys. After viewing the film, I’m very happy to report that their project is worth your time.

 

 

Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher Film is set in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn and viewers are introduced to the Party Slasher at a bash in the opening scene. The rest of the film deals with the neighborhood paranoia surrounding this slasher, as well as the misadventures of our two heroes, played by Derek and Maxwell, who also wrote and produced.

 

24-brooklyn-horror-film-fest-2016-10-07-bk03_z

 

I can without prejudice say that I really dug this film. The two leads are appealing and I was genuinely interested in their non-horror related issues and how they would work out. I would love to see these guys do a non-horror Brooklyn dramedy, incorporating the hipster bar culture and its dynamic. I think they would do a good job. The supporting players were also solid, most notably Kristen Martin, who had a very naturalistic style in her acting. As for the horror backdrop, it mostly worked. The practical effects looked convincing and the suspense was handled well throughout. The killings had an interesting retro 80’s slasher vibe about them, which I greatly appreciated. I especially liked the use of the double door buzz in which works to comedic effect in one scene and horrific effect in another. Gibbons and Frey handle all the dynamics of constantly searching but never really doing hipster aesthetic perfect— the horrible roommate you are kind of stuck with, but is a douche, but you don’t hate him or her, but you really need the rent money, and then casual drug and alcohol prompts him/her to start and play in a band that just sucks, and the other dudes in the band are half-talentless dicks who fight all the time about a bad song that no one should hear. Whewf!

 

psychotic

 

My only issues are minor. One, and this is a personal one because I’m a Brooklyn guy, being that this is called A Brooklyn Slasher Film, I wish there were more noticeable locations highlighted. Some Brooklyn landmarks could’ve been on display, especially the juxtaposition of the differing neighborhoods in comparison to Bushwick. The city could be utilized more for its diversity, exclusively because the hipster culture is spreading like wild fire in all neighborhoods. The other problem for me is the end is slightly rushed; I wanted a little more explanation and backstory. Aside from these minor quibbles and nitpicks, I highly recommend this film. Go out and show these filmmakers some love! From this full-length feature, I’m very much looking forward to their next project and wish them success in their future endeavors.

 

3.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads

3-and-a-half

 

Interview: Adam Randall

Obed had the chance to interview writer/director Adam Randall about his latest flick, Level Up

Catch Level Up on VOD starting September 20, 2016

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DBP: What made you want to be involved in the production of the movie? Did something stand out to you?

AR
: Really when I read the script it was the potential of what we could do that was exciting. One of my first thoughts was what would happen if you took a high concept thriller like this but put a lead character at its center who is totally unsuited and ill equipped to deal with it, and the tension and humor that could arise from that. The other key element that appealed was the world, or what we could do with the world. I remember thinking that if this story was set in Tokyo or Seoul or Hong Kong, the film would be so much more appealing, both in terms of tone and style. Why was it that London couldn’t be so exciting, so visual? And why couldn’t the tone be equally nuts? So that’s what I tried to bring to it initially.

 

DBP: What movies and filmmakers were your inspiration for you growing up? Did any of those inspirations come into play when making this film?

AR
: As a kid growing up in the 80s and early 90s it was Spielberg, Carpenter, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, etc. Then came the discovery of Scorcese, Coppola, and through them 1970s American cinema, which pushed me from film geek to aspiring filmmaker. Then came the introduction to world cinema, and as you may have guessed from the previous question, in particular Asian cinema. The latter was obviously massively influential, but also a key reference point was Scorcese’s After Hours.

 

DBP: If you could talk to any filmmaker of both the past and present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

AR
: Tricky question as there are so many I’d love to talk to… I would happily spend a week talking to, or preferably listening to Stanley Kubrick talk about anything. Or Spielberg. Scorcese, Coppola, Fincher, David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Joon Ho Bong or the Coen brothers. But perhaps if I had to pick one right now it would be Takeshi Kitano and I’d ask him how about how he shoots and edits action, where and why the idea came to barely show the actual violence, just the build and impact. To treat it often as almost a visual gag. And how he goes from mainstream entertainer to creator of these dark, strange and violent small films, how he balances that and where it all comes from..!

 

DBP: How do you feel now that Level Up is out? Are you relieved or more anxious?

AR: Well I’d be lying if I said there was no anxiety… Putting something out into the world, it being so public… And also a film where we tried to do something different to what was perhaps expected in this genre, I knew those expecting straight up action thrills may get annoyed by the weirdness and humor..! But it feels great to have it finished and out there, and I’m now focused on finishing the next one.

 

DBP: What scene was your favorite to film and why? What scene was the most difficult?

AR
: My favorite to film, and my favorite in the film is the scene in the drug den. From when he arrives to his escape on the moped, it encapsulates everything I was trying to do in the film. The balance of tension, humor and surrealism, the sense of dread and impending violence, putting a character in an environment he is totally unsuited for… I loved working with the cast in this scene, Cameron, Leon and Sean. And visually, it was a location we were able to really control, to design and dress. From the color of each room, the minimal lighting, the grunge and grime, it was the film I wanted to make.

As for the most difficult… Well it was all difficult to some extent as we had so little money. Shooting out in the streets of London, with very little control, on windy days so the Steadicam was blowing all over the place, people staring down the lens, rain and cold… Wasn’t the easiest…

 

DBP: What makes a great film for you? Do you think specific qualities make a film better?

AR
: So many different types of films and so many greats for different reasons. Ultimately, and there’s no way of answering this without stating the obvious, it’s about characters and it’s about story. That’s really it, and then on top of that, if it can be bold, if the tools from camera work and music and sound design are used in interesting and striking ways, that can elevate it, make it exciting on a cinematic level as well as a human one.

 

DBP: Was there a huge hurdle you faced during production on Level Up? How did you overcome it?

AR: The huge hurdle was making an ambitious, sprawling, location based, action heavy film on a budget smaller than what most blockbusters have for catering. It meant hustling and stealing and cheating and being creative, but there’s no getting around that it hurt the film at times, especially in terms of time. But you try and overcome it by thinking of ways around things, and creative ideas stem from that struggle. For me it was also knowing every shot in the film before I went in, which is how I like to work anyway, but then having the freedom to change and improvise on the day. And spending the time finding great locations that would give us cinematic potential as we couldn’t rely on designing from scratch or builds.

 

DBP: What are the biggest lessons you learned making Level Up?

AR
: All of the above but also knowing if a scene isn’t quite working on the page it won’t on film no matter what visual tricks, gags and other elements you throw at it. To go with your gut (another cliche -apologies). To fight for what you believe in as that’s what turns out best, or if not then at least it’s your fault!

 

DBP: How did you meet your team, and what did you do to keep your relationships with the strong?

AR
: I hadn’t worked with anyone on this film before. Some came through the producers, or agents sending over, or recommendations. In terms of relationships, we just worked, and enjoyed the work, had fun on set and fought against the elements together… Basically just made the film and enjoyed it the way I think we should enjoy it – it’s film making, got to be fun – and if relationships come out strong from that then they’re relationships worth keeping.

 

DBP: What sparked your interest in making movies?

AR
: Other films, loving stories and music, dreaming to music and realizing that I could try and do that for a living.

 

DBP: How did you go about making the movie come alive from the concept onto film? The concept is powerful enough to continue with either the same characters or new ones. Are there any plans for a sequel?

AR
: No plans for a sequel as far as I know… The world is interesting, the bigger story behind it all, but Matt’s story I think is done for sure.

 

DBP: Is there anything you’d go back and change with hindsight, or would you leave it as is?

AR
: Yeah there’s definitely scenes I’d love to redo, or rethink. But a lot was brought about by budget and time constraints so I’d like to go back with more money if possible!

 

DBP: Do you have any advice for other aspiring filmmakers?

AR
: Just stick at it, there’s a fair amount of pain and suffering to get through, but if you love it, if it’s all you want to do, hold tight and keep working. And in the meantime find a way to make money that doesn’t distract to much from the goal. I didn’t get that advice as my many credit cards will attest to.

 

DBP: What’s next for you?

AR
: iBOY, a sci fi thriller that was going to be my first film, but I ended up shooting it after Level Up. The way it turned out, I made both the films within a year, pretty much back to back. I’m just finishing final touches this week. It’ll be out late this year, or early next, starring Bill Milner & Maisie Williams. Very proud of it, excited to get it out into the world.

Review: They Look Like People (2015)

 

Is this a pants wetting horror movie, or a buddy movie about mental illness? I honestly don’t know. Did I like this movie? Yes and no. I liked the duality of a horror and drama elements. But I sure as fuck like the possibility of the issues facing our hero being reality or a psychological meltdown. Either way, this is a watch for any horror fan; They Look Like People has some seriously scary scenes that have lingered with me days afterward.

The film opens with a terrifying scene with our unreliable narrator lying in bed with a woman whose face is blacked out. The camera lingers, and what initially seemed like a normal scene becomes something else, as you slowly realize that what is lying across in the bed could be anything— human or monster. Just a camera resting on a blackened face scared the shit out of me for days.

We then meet Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) and Christian (Evan Dumouchel), who are old friends. Christian ends up inviting Wyatt to spend a few days at his place. During his stay, we discover that both men have issues, but oddly, Wyatt has been receiving mysterious phone calls from an unknown person. Shifting from male and female, the voice is alerting him to the fact that there is a war coming. Demons are hiding in plain sight and he is the only person who can rescue his friend. What ensues for the rest of the film is the viewer questioning the reality of Wyatt’s mental state.

I found this film randomly on Netflix in the Independent section. Based on the title, I threw it on and got exactly what I hoped for. They Look Like People is the debut film for Perry Blackshear and won a special jury award at the Slamdance Film Festival. This is a disturbing film that will be open to interpretation and discussion for many. As noted earlier, this film can be a horror, thriller, drama, and regardless of how you ultimately identify with it, there is no escaping the excruciatingly suspenseful scenes in this film, most notably the climax. I’ll throw up a SPOILER ALERT here to discuss.

What I liked most is that although the logic says Wyatt is crazy and there is no a demon war coming, we never get that fully answered. The question of what if he’s right is always lingering. Even in the finale, where Wyatt questions Christians identity, his hallucinations regarding what is under the bag are realistic, based on the terrifying reality he could soon be facing. Even when we discover that Christian is one of the good ones, we do not really know that the shit hasn’t hit the fan outside in the world.

Being that this is a site about horror, I obviously would rather view this film as a paranoid thriller, where our hero sets out to save his best pal from a demon holocaust; and not as a film about two friends conquering their mental woes through their love for one another. Either way, however you end up viewing it, both films work. It’s just, for me, that one film works a hell of a fuckload more. So definitely check it out and let me know what you think. E-mail me at Brooklynmike666@gmail.com. They Look Like People is worth a watch and I guarantee you will never look at your significant other on the other pillow the same way again.