Short Film Review: Visitor (2017)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 9, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Force of Nature Films presents Visitor, an unnerving short film centered on a woman who receives mysterious text messages from a stranger. Visitor incorporates a simple premise and leaves the viewer wanting to know more. It’s key to bear in mind that Visitor is a concept piece geared toward becoming a feature film and already there is plenty of interesting material in place.

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Directed and written by Roger Sampson, Visitor is essentially body horror on a small budget but it doesn’t reveal a great deal. All that is presented about the lead character (played by Ashley Maure) is that she is a fertility doctor but there seems to be a whole lot more to her past that remains unexplored. The link between pregnancy and possession goes hand in hand thematically relating to the fear of physical invasion.

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Phone stalking is a frequent convention when it comes to horror but with modern technology continuing to grow and more and more people living through their devices it paves the way for a whole new kind of scary as an easier form of personal access. The combination of body invasion and the growth of technology makes for an unsettling experience. There’s a short amount of tension in place before events become extra sinister. The ending of the piece is disturbingly well-crafted and knows how to strike a nerve with it’s audience.

Visitor is well done and has a plenty of potential to develop it’s narrative further as well as include some creative and gory FX.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews 

Agatha (2015, short) Review

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

In the late 1800’s a young orphan known as Sophie (Louise Ogle) earns her keep by delivering slabs of meat to an ambiguous creature that resides at the top of the stairs in an old, eerie mansion. As Sophie climbs the stairs night after night her curiosity grows as to what inhabits that room. Is she prepared to discover the sinister presence that lurks in the shadows? Who is Agatha and what does she want…?

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Written and Directed by Timothy Vandenberg, Agatha is a prelude to what will eventually become a feature film, expanding on the mysterious narrative even further. Agatha is genuinely creepy in it’s tone and Vandenberg wholly utilizes the gothic location achieving a constant sense of tension and dread. With a concept such as this it would be so easy to throw in jump scares in order to unsettle and surprise the audience however the direction it takes is much more unnerving, notably with the use of rising music as Sophie enters the room.

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Shrouded in darkness with the prime focus on young Sophie’s reactions and the close ups of the unappealing food she is made to deliver, Agatha makes for a short but stomach churning viewing. Having the protagonist as a seven year old child makes the piece more heart-rendering as she is all alone and vulnerable in a frightening situation. Old photographs are extremely creepy and the photo on display with the baby’s face scratched out proves effective, allowing the audience to wonder what is wrong with Agatha.

There is plenty of scope to take the story further and heaps of unanswered questions and backstories to explore, particularly the mother character (Penny Kohut) and her motivations.

Agatha is a spine-chilling period piece with quality production values and gallons of potential for a much longer run time. Bring on the creep-fest!

In Autumn 2016, Agatha premiered at Screamfest LA in the Shorts Block. 

Watch the Trailer for Agatha Here:

https://youtu.be/kRNuI0ZqxxY

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

A Floresta das Almas Perdidas (The Forest of Lost Souls) (2017) Review

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Short film director Jose Pedro Lopes (Survivalismo, 2011) has produced his first feature length film, the dark and disturbing, A Floresta das Almas Perdidas (The Forest of Lost Souls).

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The titular forest is Portugal’s most infamous suicide spot. One morning two complete strangers with their own demons to bear meet within the wood. Ricardo (Jorge Mota) has planned to end his life but is interrupted by the arrival of Carolina (Daniela Love) who shares similar motivations. Ricardo attempts to make sense as to why a young woman with her whole life ahead of her has a desire for a premature death while Carolina is hostile towards him. She soon gets under his skin in analyzing his situation. Events head into a tense and sinister direction that proves unpredictable and absolutely compelling.

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A Floresta das Almas Perdidas is shot entirely in black and white and while it comes across as cinematically stylish it also complements the melancholic tone of the film. It contains striking cinematography, and each frame is polished and beautifully composed. The cinematography makes the most of the beauty of the location. Overall it’s a very visual film, mostly telling the story through imagery with little dialogue. However, the dialogue spoken proves powerful and effective.

Daniela Love delivers a stand out performance as a complex young woman with extremely dark thoughts on her mind. Carolina is a chilling character and her actions throughout the film are fascinatingly disturbing.

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Plot-wise, A Floresta das Almas Perdidas is surprising and heads down an unexpected route from the film that first begins. It tackles a hard hitting subject matter artistically making it somewhat different and experimental.

The film incorporates a beautiful and haunting score which adds to the already chilling atmosphere as well as brilliantly fitting soundtrack.

With a relatively compact run time of 71 minutes, A Floresta das Almas Perdidas achieves a great deal in its narrative and visual storytelling. It’s a film that offers up complex and riveting characterization that drives the story. The violence is tastefully portrayed however it’s a film that packs an emotional and psychological impact.

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A Floresta das Almas Perdidas is a filmmaking achievement for Lopes, taking on a very real and emotionally difficult subject matter and creating something truly inventive. The film is an intriguing entry in the horror/mystery genre.

A Floresta das Almas Perdidas receives its world premiere in February 2017 at the Fantasporto Film Festival.

 http://www.fantasporto.com/

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJeL_vi9EQ8

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Happy New Year from Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Love Horror, Uncategorized with tags on January 1, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Wishing all my fang-tastic followers a Bloody, Gory but Happy New Year. Thank you to you all for your continued support with this blog and my work with Love Horror and Ghostface Girls. 

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Head over to my Facebook page for plenty more updates and my new feature, “Scary Soundtrack” where once a week I will post a piece of music from some of my favourite horror movies.

https://www.facebook.com/HayleysHorrorReviews/

Let’s make 2017 the scariest year yet as I enter my sixth year of horror reviewing!

Hayley’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2016!

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

With only a few days of 2016 remaining, it’s that time again to reflect on the genre movies that left a lasting impression this year. Horror-wise, 2016 was off to a slow start but once festival season hit as always a number of gore-tastic gems from all over the world proved that there is still innovative and captivating horror out there.

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This has been a pretty difficult list to rank as the latter end of the year saw several sinisterly superb genre movies, all eerily excellent in their own ways, making them tough to choose between. Viewing the year as a whole, horror movies have sure been eclectic offering up something to satisfy everyone’s bloodthirst!

**Please Note that this list is a reflection of my own personal opinion and taste. If you agree or disagree with my picks, feel free to comment below, tweet me @hayleyr1989 or head over to my facebook page. Let me know your fang-tastic favourites of 2016.**

10. Cat Sick Blues (2015)

  • Directed By: Dave Jackson
  • Country: Australia
  • Australia Release Date: 21st September 2016
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 21st October 2016

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Cat Sick Blues is the feature length version of the short film of the same name. Ted (Matthew C. Vauaghan) suffers a breakdown when he loses his beloved pet cat which sends him on a horrific killing spree in the search for nine lives in order to resurrect his precious feline friend. At the same time traumatized Claire (Shian Denovan) has also lost her internet sensation cat under disturbing circumstances. Their paths cross and events take an even more twisted turn. It’s like Pet Semetary goes warped and is not for the faint hearted. Cat Sick Blues pushes the boundaries in both violence and sexual violence, placing the audience in an uncomfortable position where it’s unsure whether to laugh or be horrified. The tone is strangely unbalanced but is what makes the film compelling. Unapologetically unpleasant, Cat Sick Blues has clawed it’s way onto this list for being an unforgettable viewing experience this year.

Check out our Ghostface Girls Video from Celluloid Screams 2016 discussing Cat Sick Blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC1HPsxpUz8

9. Creepy (2016)

  • Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Country: Japan
  • UK Release Date: 25th November 2016
  • Seen at the Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Creepy is a slow burning, atmospheric chiller from Pulse director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. A former police detective, Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is summoned by an ex-colleague to examine a case surrounding a missing family six years earlier. At the same time, him and his wife, Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi) move to a new neighbourhood and get more than they bargained for when they come across their strange, enigmatic neighbour Nishino (Teruyuki Kagawa). What is he hiding? Have the couple unwittingly found themselves in grave danger? Filled with mystery and an incredibly intense tone throughout, Creepy is a movie that kept audiences on the edge of their seats in 2016. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts but it has nail-biting tension that keeps the audience engrossed from beginning to end. With a two hour run time, Creepy focuses on strong character development while keeping us guessing where the narrative will head next. Teruyki Kagawa gives a terrific performance as the potentially crazy neighbour sharing an antagonistic chemistry with Hidetoshi Nishijima’s Takakura. Creepy is a polished thriller, layered in intrigue and a must-see of 2016.

Read my full review on LoveHorror.co.uk: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/creepy-2016-review/

8. Train to Busan (2016)

  • Directed By Sang-ho Yeon
  • Country: South Korea
  • UK Release Date: 28th October 2016

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If you thought the zombie sub-genre was tired by 2016 then this highly talked about South Korean flick without a doubt turned it around. Train to Busan is a character driven, action packed zom com that allows for plenty of humour as well as depth and emotion. It centres on a young girl Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) and her workaholic single father Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) who board the fast train to take them to their destination. They however become derailed when a zombie outbreak occurs, now it’s time for the passengers to band together in a fight for survival. Train to Busan shares a typical plot line with every single film of this kind out there but what makes it so entertaining and so moving is the character depiction. The group of unlikely survivors work well. Soo-an and Seok come across a bickering married couple who are expecting a child, Sung Gyeong (Yu-mi Jung) and her husband Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma). With a child and expectant mother involved the stakes are raised allowing for stomach churning moments however the female characters prove strong and resourceful despite their circumstances. It’s young Soo-an who steals the show with a heartbreaking performance. It gears up towards an unforgettable finale with gallons of emotional impact. Train to Busan proves why the zombie flick when placed in the right hands can still be an excellent staple of horror.

7. Night Of Something Strange

  • Directed By Jonathan Straiton
  • Country: USA/Canada
  • UK Release Date: 22nd November 2016
  • Frightfest Screening: 26th August 2016

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Paying homage to all that 1980’s gory goodness Jonathan Straiton’s Night of Something Strange is a gross-out horror comedy that plays on the trope of why having sex in a horror movie is a really, really deadly idea! A group of unwitting teens become the victims of a sexually transmitted virus that runs rife transforming it’s victims into the living dead! It’s a love letter to 80s flicks and B-Movies such as Night of the Creeps (1986) and Evil Dead 2 (1987), it also features a typical slasher premise in the form of killer Cornelius (Wayne W. Johnson). Night Of Something Strange is a wild gore-fuelled ride from beginning to end. Expect all kinds of bodily fluids thrown at the screen, as this is a movie that certainly doesn’t hold back on the carnage. It’s a  movie made for gore enthusiasts and appreciators of 1980’s horror, Jonathan Straiton understands his target audiences and delivers exactly what they want. Night of Something Strange is the stand out comedy/horror of 2016.

For my full Frightfest Review on LoveHorror.co.uk, visit:

 http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/night-something-strange-2016-review/

For my interview with director Jonathan Straiton visit:

http://lovehorror.co.uk/interview/interview-jonathan-straiton-director-co-writer-night-something-strange/

6. Dearest Sister (Nong Hak) (2016)

  • Directed By Mattie Do
  • Country: Laos
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 17th November 2016

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Dearest Sister is one of the films I have covered heavily this year and is not one to be missed. Dearest Sister is Mattie Do’s second feature horror film and the second to be produced in Laos as a whole. In an authentic and cultured genre film, Dearest Sister tells the story of a young Lao woman’s place within her family as she cares for her visually impaired cousin Ana (Vilouna Phetmany). It transpires that her cousin’s impairment triggers a unique ability to communicate with the dead in which Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya- Chanthaly (2013)) uses for her own gain. Fantastically acted, emotionally driven and beautifully shot, Dearest Sister is a different, one-of-a-kind piece of genre cinema.

Read my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams including a link to the Ghostface Girls interview with Mattie Do and the film’s producer Annick Mahnert: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-dearest-sister-review/

Check out my piece on Dearest Sister from my Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-three/

5. Trash Fire (2016)

  • Directed By: Richard Bates Jr.
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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Richard Bates Jr. (Excision, Suburban Gothic) served up his best film to date with the deliciously venomous Trash Fire. Centring on a young couple who share mutual resentment towards each other, the time has come to either make or break their relationship when they receive life changing news. In one last ditch effort at redemption, Owen (Adrian Grenier) must face his long lost family at the request of girlfriend Isabel (Angela Trimbur). With a witty, razor sharp script and detestable dialogue, Trash Fire is an unrelenting horror comedy about family and making amends. The core cast display compelling performances from the two leads to the ghastly grandmother played by Fionnula Flanagan and the timid, secretive, disfigured sister played by Annalynne McCord. Trash Fire has it all, it’s engaging from start to finish with brilliant performances and a gut wrenching finale you won’t see coming. If you liked Excision and Suburban Gothic then you’ll absolutely love Trash Fire.

For my full review fresh from Celluloid Screams visit: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/celluloid-screams-2016-trash-fire-review/

Ghostface Girls talk Trash Fire here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3mPNiBfN14

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4. The Unseen (2016)

  • Directed By: Geoff Redknap
  • Country: Canada
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 19th November 2016

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As recently discussed in my Abertoir Horror Festival coverage, The Unseen was one of those unexpected gems where you enter a film with very little expectation and come out pleasantly surprised. This Canadian horror is very much a character driven piece with themes surrounding the importance of family and reconnecting before it’s too late. The Unseen featured some of the greatest visual effects in the genre this year as it literally depicts a man physically fading away. The Unseen centres on a father trying to make amends with his teenage daughter after abandoning her under mysterious circumstances several years previously. Aden Young and Julia Sarah Stone provide powerhouse performances, conveying authentic characters that the audience can get on board with. The Unseen isn’t outright horror and holds a more wide-scale appeal, it incorporates a fantastical subtext for it’s subject matter but at the heart of it it portrays an issue that many can identify with. Not one to be missed, The Unseen is a film that captures how we deal with extraordinary circumstances.

For my Abertoir Coverage and lengthier review of the Unseen, check out Love Horror: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-five/ 

3. We Go On (2016)

  • Directed By: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016

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We Go On is hands down the most unsettling movie of 2016. It’s a film that challenges our innermost universal fear of death. The premise surrounds a troubled and extremely phobic man named Miles (Clark Freeman) who is willing to pay $30,000 if the existence of an afterlife can be proved much to the concern of his over protective mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole). Again, We Go On proved to be very much character focused, with Miles being written complexly; he is too afraid to live in the moment without any guarantee of a certain outcome, that there’s something beyond his own mortality. It takes on a difficult subject matter and plays it out beautifully. We Go On is haunting and unnerving and featured one of the most creepy moments in a horror movie that got under the skin this year. We Go One resonates really well and leaves a lasting impression long after viewing. The performances are believable in this incredible, effective and chilling piece of modern supernatural horror.

For my full Celluloid Screams Review, visit:

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-we-go-on-review/

2. The Devil’s Candy (2015)

  • Directed By: Sean Byrne
  • Country: USA
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 22nd October 2016

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Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) returned with a surprising second feature film that is far removed from his début, grizzly  Australian offering. The Devil’s Candy takes on a familiar premise centring on a family moving to a new house that isn’t what it seems. What sets The Devil’s Candy apart from similar movies is the strong characterization and excellent performances from it’s core cast. From the beginning the audience flawlessly become invested in the characters. There’s metalhead/artist dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his hard working wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and chip off the old block daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). The family dynamics are irresistible to watch and as the plot unfolds we learn what lengths they will go in order to protect each other. The Devil’s Candy showcases characters that are fans of dark material but come across as the most down to earth people imaginable, smiting against the stigma that anyone who gravitates away from the norm has endured. The film incorporates some stunning yet satanic art work and a rocking heavy metal soundtrack plus gallons of nail-biting tension. The Devil’s Candy is one of the most solid films this year that has mass appeal.

My Celluloid Screams Review: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/celluloid-screams-2016-the-devils-candy-review/

Honourable Mentions: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), The Neon Demon (2016), Monolith (2016), Let Her Out (2016), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). 

  1. Raw (2016)
  • Directed By: Julia Ducournau 
  • Country: France/ Belgium
  • Seen at Celluloid Screams: 23rd October 2016
  • Seen at Abertoir Horror Festival: 18th November 2016
  • To be released: March 2017

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It was the movie that generated copious amounts of controversy but we will forget all that because Raw is a truly awesome film and deserves to be talked about. It’s Ginger Snaps meets French art house horror in a coming of age tale about taking your first bite! Naive, vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins her first semester at veterinary school but is soon seduced by the hardcore rebellious lifestyle of her peers including older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). When she is pressured into consuming fresh meat for the first time her darker side begins to materialize to a jaw-dropping effect. Raw is tastefully shot, allowing for enough gore but leaving much to the imagination. Garance Marillier brings in the performance of the year making Justine a character that is equally likeable and detestable. It knowingly get’s under the skin while being surprisingly comedic in it’s own darkly twisted way. It embraces female sexuality in an empowering light which is refreshing to see from a genre piece. Raw is a gore-geously artistic film that contains a compelling narrative. It’s a shame the film has been plagued with unnecessary hype which clouds the fact that it is completely fantastic in what it does. I’ve been lucky to see Raw twice this year and I can’t wait for it’s official release in March so I can taste another pound of flesh!

Read my full review here: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/celluloid-screams-2016-raw-review/ 

Abertoir Horror Festival Raw Coverage: http://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-features/abertoir-horror-festival-2016-part-four/

Thank you for reading. Comment below if you agree or disagree with my picks. Keep it subjective.

What a year it’s been for the genre, let’s look forward to what shocks and scares await us in 2017!

Thank you to all of you who support Hayley’s Horror Reviews and share the horror love along with me. Have a bloody, gory, fantastic happy new year!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

What’s Your Favourite Scary Movie? 20 Years of Scream.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

It started with a sinister phone call and ended in a bloodbath. The genre-defying horror movie of the 1990’s turned twenty years old this week commemorating it’s USA release on the 18th December 1996. It wasn’t released in the UK until May 1997. Scream was one of the first films that pulled me into horror and without a doubt has left a lasting impression. Back in 1996 following the surge of popcorn slasher flicks throughout the 1980’s, the genre fell into a rut. It’s very common to hear that Scream was the film that had revitalized the slasher film as it challenged and critiqued all the tropes and conventions fans had become all too familiar with. While the early 90’s did produce some great horror films such as Candyman (1992), Misery (1990) and of course Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) which broke new ground and brought the Elm Street franchise into a fresh new light, Scream is always the film that is viewed as the turning point for horror.

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What stands out about Scream is it’s slick, post-modern and scary. It brought the slasher film into an updated setting ready for the next generation of gore lovers. Both the tension and comedy aspects are well balanced in equal measure. At the time the most striking element of Scream was it’s ability to re-create a traditional slasher narrative while being self-referential and poking fun at itself. Having characters who knew and loved the genre well and used their knowledge to survive was ground-breaking stuff. Of course, the most iconic moment is the opening sequence which made the statement that “all bets are off” and “absolutely no one is safe”. The killing off of Drew Barrymoore’s Casey Becker was a genius idea proving that Scream wasn’t afraid to take risks.

DREW BARRYMORE Film 'SCREAM' (1996) Directed By WES CRAVEN 18 December 1996 SSI32760 Allstar Collection/DIMENSION **WARNING** This photograph can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above film. For Editorial Use Only

I can’t recall a time where I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ghostface. The costume was always popular around Halloween season and seemed to draw my attention. I actually did go trick or treating as the character complete with my fake knife and voice changer at a young age, further fuelling the fascination. I had wanted to see the Scream films for the longest time in the hope I would get absolutely terrified.  The opportunity finally came when I had not long turned twelve years old. The film was screening on Channel 4 in a late night slot and by then I had my own TV in my room which became the staple of late night horror movie watching. Whether consciously or not I had always gravitated towards darker media and have previously spoken about being freaked out by Nicholas Roeg’s The Witches (1990), re-watching Return to Oz (1985) and getting nightmares from an obscure CITV episode titled Frighteners (1996, TV) during childhood. However now was the time to experience some real, adult horror films, it was time to see if this highly anticipated movie would actually make me Scream!

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Instantly, I was impressed. Scream showcases some exceptional set pieces. It’s an exercise in pure tension that builds up really well before going for the jugular! The death scenes were well crafted and suspenseful but most of all the characters were multi-layered and easy to invest in. This was probably down to them being written with self-awareness which made them feel less generic. Neve Campbell plays Sidney as a final girl an audience can root for and gave an emotional performance. However the character who stood out the most was of course fan favourite Randy (played by Jamie Kennedy). Randy was the underdog, he never got the girl but what he did know was his horror movies and used his knowledge as a tool to survive, all these qualities make him endearing and to a degree somewhat relateable to horror obsessives. The “horror movie rules” party scene is cleverly constructed establishing that Randy is the character to take advice from in surviving a maniacal killer.

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The killer reveal is an absolutely twisted, jaw-dropping moment. It questioned the idea of does a killer really need a distinct motive to drive him/her to murder while the other side of it being rooted in pure revenge. The whole plot and build up of two years of torment from the killers is harrowing ending in a brutal cat and mouse game that leaves the audience reeling. Instead of being afraid of the on screen events I was deeply fascinated and realized it was possible for me to watch and enjoy horror movies. I’d tasted blood and wanted more!

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Scream was pretty much my introduction to the horror genre. It led me literally where I am today. It encouraged me to seek out all the films it referenced, I couldn’t wait to discover the fiendish frights of Jason and Freddy and from then on a whole lot more, there are so many great horror films I’m still discovering. Scream as a film and as a franchise has a very special place for many fans. It’s one of those where I remember exactly where I was and what I experienced when I first saw it. Twenty years on it’s still very much a significant film and a staple of the genre. Thank you Wes Craven, thank you Kevin Williamson for introducing me to horror and ultimately changing my life.

Happy 20th Anniversary Scream.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

The Top Short Films of Celluloid Screams 2016!

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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At horror festivals, fans and film enthusiasts alike are treated to a selection of short horror films created by talented filmmakers that are currently taking the underground, indie circuit by storm. The feature films normally take centre stage however in his year’s Celluloid Screams line up the short films proved to be just as striking, some even thought provoking and others were downright weird! (but more on that later). So, here goes, these are the top shockingly good short films of Celluloid Screams 2016. As always these are my own views and not a reflection on the overall panel vote.

10. Death Metal (2016)

  • Directed by Chris McInroy
  • USA, 5 Minutes

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Perfectly placed before The Devil’s Candy, Death Metal is a loud and proud, gore-fuelled spectacle. With similar vibes to last year’s Deathgasm about a satanic guitar that unleashes hell on earth, Death Metal is a rocking black comedy that promises “riffs that shred”, literally! It’s a laugh out loud, thrill ride that’s perfect for the horror festival crowd. Watch this one LOUD!

9. Gwilliam (2015)

  • Directed by Brian Lonano
  • USA, 6 Minutes

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Where to even start with this one? Gwilliam is one of those moments in life where you watch something you completely cannot erase. Bordering between the disgusting, the bizarre and the comedic, Gwilliam is certainly a unique piece of genre cinema! Crow Hands director Brian Lonano takes the crazy up to max level as an ex-con (played by William Tokarsky) is released from prison looking for a night of fun with a hooker. The build up of Gwilliam is done exceptionally well as it’s unclear where the narrative is heading and boy, isn’t it a surprise! Expect the unexpected, once watched, you will never forget your Gwilliam…this short film means what it says!

8. Do You See What I See (2016)

  • Directed by Justin McConnell and Serena Whitney
  • USA, 14 Minutes

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Sloan (Caleigh Le Grand) is reluctant about attending her overbearing sister Jessica’s (Jorja Cadence) annual Christmas party. With all the garish Christmas iconography imaginable, Sloan goes through the motions, that’s until an uninvited guest gatecrashes with very little festive cheer causing madness and mayhem for the warring sisters. Do You See What I See has the makings of a classic slasherific Christmas flick. The performances are believable especially the increasing tension between Sloan and Jessica. The short showcases strong, kick-ass women who take matters into their own hands once the stakes are raised. From a filmic perspective Do You See What I See takes influence from iconic slasher films e.g. Peeping Tom, Halloween and The Burning to create a sinister effect, seeing things through the killer’s eyes with several POV shots. Intense and well executed, Do You See What I See guarantees you’ll be dreaming of a Black Christmas!

7. Dawn of the Deaf (2016)

  • Directed by Rob Savage
  • Canada, 12 Minutes

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In this hard hitting short focused on a minority group, Dawn of the Deaf raises the bar with the traditional apocalyptic horror narrative. With similar techniques to Mike Flannagan’s Hush, the audience is placed in the point of view of the hard of hearing characters and the world around them. A sonic pulse infects the hearing, now it’s up to the deaf community to band together in a fight for survival. Dawn of the Deaf is a layered offering and uses the survival concept in more ways than one, it centres on abuse, sexuality and coping with disability prior to any fantastical horror element. The film portrays the vulnerability of the deaf extraordinarily however the tables do turn depicting the strength within the community. As spoke about during my Ghostface Girls Facebook live video, there is a stunning moment where sign language is used and the camera pans around the characters, some of the subtitled dialogue is missed out proving to be incredibly effective. Dawn of the Deaf is a poignant and moving short.

6. The Disappearance of  Willie Bingham (2015)

  • Directed by Matthew Richards
  • Australia, 12 Minutes

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The Disappearance of Willie Bingham contained the most controversial and disturbing subject matter out of all the short films on this list. A new kind of torturous, radical punishment has been put in place for the worst kinds of criminals, and Willie Bingham is the first to undergo this method. This film conveys the internal thoughts of the majority of society who feel strongly about the lack of justice projected at murderers, rapists and pedophiles and this is a somewhat cathartic experience. The vulnerable and afraid side of the criminal is portrayed as the family are permitted to exact their brutal revenge as slowly as possible. Kevin Dee in the title role is exceptional as his character is paraded around by authoritative officials and made an example of. It’s a powerful piece of film that raises difficult questions in relation to the justice system and the treatment of despicable criminals. The Disappearance of Willie Bingham  deserves to be seen and talked about.

5. Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll (2017)

  • Directed by Matt Harlock
  • UK, 15 Minutes

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Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll is an innovative, cleverly executed, documentary style short that presents the work of controversial comic book artist Steve Martin (no, not the bloke from Father of the Bride!) and his perverted alter ego Krent Able. It’s psychologically chilling as the film challenges the concept of spilt personality and questions whether there’s a thin line between Steve and the monstrous side to him. Is Krent just a fictional character stemmed from his imagination or something much worse? Fourth wall breaking and filled with edgy art work in it’s believable set up, Ink, Cocks & Rock and Roll is one to look out for in 2017.

4. Mindless (2016)

  • Directed by Katie Bonham
  • UK, 8 Minutes

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Mindless is a thought-provoking psychological horror directed by the talented Katie Bonham. Taking away the horror subtext, the subject of Mindless is very real as it focuses on the care of the vulnerable within British society. Peter (Nicholas Vince- Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II) is a senile man, living alone; each day his house is torn apart much to the horror of his patient care worker Judy (Kate Danbury). Peter has no recollection of how his home got into the state it has and becomes frustrated with Judy, blaming her. Determined to get Peter into a care home for his own safety and well-being, Judy is about to get more than she bargained for, is Peter’s declining memory the real issue or is there a more sinister presence at play? Mindless brings an important subject matter to light, it’s a topic that can be very difficult to talk about however Bonham does a tremendous job portraying it on screen. It’s bleak from the outset in it’s tone and cinematography creating a psychologically unnerving atmosphere. Nicholas Vince gives an exceptional performance as Peter, playing him with a sense of vulnerability and confusion that allows the audience to garner empathy for him. Kate Danbury also brings in a strong performance as the frustrated care worker doing her best to help him. Mindless is a film that will resonate with audiences as it draws on issues that many can identify with. Katie Bonham has created a powerful film on a low budget that demonstrates a film can leave a long lasting impression without traditional scare tactics or elaborate special effects. It’s no surprise that Mindless continues to win awards all around the world.

3. Imitations (2016)

  • Directed by Milos Mitrovic and Fabian Velasco
  • Canada, 10 Mintues

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Who doesn’t love a bit of Canadian Film Collective Astron-6? They are certainly one of a kind with their off the wall brand of humour. Imitations is another of their unforgettable and bizarre offerings, centring on a lonely YouTuber named Arnold (Milos Mitrovic) who gets plastic surgery to look like his idol “21 Year Old Baby” singing sensation Austin Kelsey (Conor Sweeney). Arnold begins to experience strange side effects following his operation, forcing him to take drastic measures when he attends his eagerly awaited karaoke night. Everything about this short is laugh out loud hilarious and strange. The entire cast look like they’re having a blast, Milos Mitrovic and Conor Sweeney are both fantastic as well as Divorced Dad, Matthew Kennedy. Imitations is an entertaining short that must be seen to be believed. If you loved Father’s Day and loved The Editor, then you’ll love Imitations.

2. Kookie  (2016)

  • Directed by Justin Harding
  • Canada, 13 Minutes

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Bree, a disobedient nine year old is taught a valuable lesson from a sinister visitor after breaking the rules set by her mother involving a creepy cookie jar. Kookie is a slow burning, genuinely comedic short that will certainly be appreciated by fans of creepy clowns. The child actress is superb as young Bree, playing the troublemaker role with menace. Harding ensures that the audience are kept on edge as he builds on the tension with the unnerving clown iconography. A thrilling and funny short, that will ensure that children should behave!

  1. Overtime (2016)
  • Directed By Craig D. Foster
  • Australia, 9 Minutes

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For a huge fan of An American Werewolf in London, it’s no surprise that Overtime, a werewolf themed, dark comedy takes the top spot. Comedic tension is at play as poor Ralph (Aaron Glenane) urgently attempts to get home from work but a series of obstacles get in his way. Overtime is a real delight to watch as poor Ralph attempts to make his exit before it’s too late. The joke is on those around him from his boss to romantic interest who risk unleashing the beast by stalling him. The special effects are incredible and are a spectacle to watch as Ralph’s body morphs into something inhuman. Aaron Gleane gives a brilliant performance as the tormented werewolf. Overtime is a lot of fun and a brilliant homage to one of horror’s most iconic monsters.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.