Archive for March, 2015

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**

If you’re seeking out a decent modern slasher then look no further. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s (Director on American Horror Story) semi-remake/re-imagining of The Town that Dreaded Sundown is a solid slasher film reminiscent of the classic period of 70s and 80’s slash n’ hack fests!

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The Town that Dreaded Sundown is not a direct remake of the 1976 film of the same name that delved into the brutal slaying’s that took place in 1946 Arkansas. Gomez-Rejon completely does his own thing, updating the story for modern horror goers while bringing in a clever and refreshing meta-narrative that separates it from the generic remake it could have become if fallen into the wrong hands.

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In 2014 Sundown (that takes place in 2013!), 1976 Sundown is merely a movie adaptation of the true and tragic events that darkened the little Texan town of Texarkana back in the 1940s. The film is used by police officers as evidence in order to decipher a pattern between the original murders, the film depiction and the horrific crimes that are taking place in 2013. Having authority so active in a slasher is atypical as normally they ignore the warnings of the heroine and end up sliced and diced by the masked killer. The Town that Dreaded Sundown has a strong sense of community running through it with the safety of others being integral.

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The use of clips of the murder scenes from 1976 Sundown inserted in with footage from the current film pays a fantastic homage to the source material while emphasizing the copycat killer angle and the impact of the infamous crimes on Texarkana. There’s a strong sense of the film’s legacy, the clips from 76′ are grainy while modern Sundown is stylish and polished, highlighting the passage of time and how advanced filmmaking has become on a technical level since the 70’s. We even meet Charles B. Pierece Jr (played by American Horror favourite Denis O’ Hare), the fictional version of the son of original director Charles B. Pierce in order to gain an insight into the behind-the-scenes of the film and theories into the identity of the 1946 murderer, breaking the fourth wall.

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1976 Sundown is screened on Halloween at the drive-in movie theatre despite protests from the town’s religious figure Reverend Cartwright (the late Edward Hermann) with claims of it being a ‘Godless film’. The drive-in movie setting is the first element that aesthetically brings in a nostalgic factor to the film, already making the slasher fan comfortably at home. Its there we meet our heroine Jami (Addison Timlin) who sneaks off with love interest Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) to the former spot known as ‘Lovers Lane’, they are attacked by an ambiguous figure wearing a sack over his head with small holes where the eyes are meant to be (early inspiration for Jason Voorhees a la Friday the 13th: Part 2 maybe?). Corey is brutally slain in a scene of high octane violence. With Corey coming in as victim number one, this killer wants to let the town know he has returned after 65 years. The Phantom has some unfinished business with the inhabitants of Texarkana and his sights now set on Jami!

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Addison Timlin plays Jami as the modern final girl with classic qualities. She’s reminiscent of a Sidney Prescott (Scream 1-4) type with a tragic back-story vital to the impact of the Phantom’s reign of terror. She’s relentless and resourceful, aiding the police in their investigation and determined to bring the perpetrator of these violent crimes to justice. Timlin’s performance carries the film well keeping the audience firmly on her side. There’s a subversion on the final girl theory that she must remain virginal in order to survive and the twist that comes with it. However there’s plenty of sex equals death moments to keep things a certain degree of traditional.

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The violence is fast paced and grizzly providing a squirmworthy viewing experience and shocking death scenes. The Phantom speaks sinisterly and is cruel and torturous with his aimless killings, the most brutal being his attack on a teenage interracial gay couple, most likely producer Ryan Murphy’s influence. The scene is quite profound acting as a metaphor for the intolerance of sexuality combined with race in a predominantly religious town. The scene in particular aids Sundown to stand out from the shallow slashers out there with nothing interesting to offer whereas Murphy is never afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to the taboo. The final showdown and killer reveal could have incorporated more depth, feeling too rushed but the outcome works well and is unexpected.

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014) is daring, nostalgic while keeping things modern and challenging.  Its slashertastic and one of the better remakes out there that can be appreciated by fans new and old!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

https://www.facebook.com/HayleysHorrorReviews

Love Horror Reviews (March 2015).

Posted in Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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John Watts’s Clown (2014): http://lovehorror.co.uk/psycho/clown-2014-review/

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Joseph O’ Brien’s American Ghost Story (2014) (Aka. Devil’s Mile): http://lovehorror.co.uk/latest/american-ghost-story-2014-review/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Hate Crime: A Modern Day Video Nasty!

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME IMAGES THAT MAY UPSET THE CENSORS, DO NOT BAN ME!**

Three years ago I was given the opportunity to review a low-budget found footage/home invasion/crime movie from a young, upcoming genre director; James Cullen Bressack. Fast forward to 2015 and news broke out a couple of days ago that our ‘trusty’ board of classification over here  in the UK, the BBFC had refused to classify the movie subsequently making it the fourth banned film in the country in recent years joining The Bunny Game, Grotesque and The Human Centipede 2 (which eventually was released with cuts). The film is Hate Crime, a raw and brutal depiction of the suffering of a Jewish family terrorized by neo-nazi thugs. Along with Funny Games, Hate Crime is a home invasion film that deliberately pushes the boundaries to shake up its viewers, its an exercise in pure terror which should be the intention when making this kind of horror film. When I watched the film back in 2012, I was shocked, sickened, thought-provoked and somewhat upset, not because of the brutal imagery that plays out on screen but because the film served as a reminder that even when the credits roll, incidents just like this happen in real life and that is a harrowing thought to take away with you. Hate Crime impressed me in several ways, its found footage angle was done well, and unlike many other films that use this method it actually served a purpose. It also takes place in real time making the piece highly effective with a sense of high octane realism at play.

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Bressack recently spoke out about the film’s banning saying he found it”unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned” and that “it just shows the power of what is implied and people’s imagination and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.” This was actually something I applauded; Bressack’s technique of pulling the camera away from the moments of violence and sexual abuse made the scenes even more traumatic and powerful.

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After viewing the film I had my suspicions that it was inevitably going to generate controversy outside of the horror community, the film’s content is horrible but its meant to be, its a depiction of something nasty that does go on in real life which is understandably hard to stomach. Sadly racism of this degree is out there. There is also the argument of film being an escapism therefore is a film as brutal as this necessary when we are reminded of despicable incidents like this happening in the news all the time. Films about true life whether autobiographical or not are constantly being made so this should be no different. It goes that little bit further than the glossy Hollywood home invasion movies but you don’t see The Strangers, You’re Next or The Purge not seeing the light of day with essentially the same concept and similar themes!

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The BBFC have justified their reasons behind rejecting Hate Crime for classification, which can be read here. When interviewing Bressack back in 2012 ahead of its UK premiere at Grimm Up North Horror Festival I asked if he was worried about the BBFC’s reaction to which he said: “We hope we’re not banned.  Despite its extreme brutality, much of Hate Crime’s violence takes place off screen.  Plus, its message is strong and important.  Particularly in Europe where anti-Semitism is growing.  We hope everyone who wants to see it gets to.”

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I personally stand by the belief that anyone over the age of 18 should be able to watch whatever they like, its not harming anybody.There is no reason why this film shouldn’t be available within the public domain. The disheartening factor is it seems that independent films are judged much more harshly than mainstream movies, it doesn’t help encourage upcoming indie filmmakers to be brave with their art. The case of Hate Crime strongly echoes the debate over Axelle Carolyn’s supernatural drama Soulmate that was threatened with an outright ban if cuts weren’t made to a scene depicting a suicide attempt to prevent ‘imitable behaviour’; despite the scene being completely vital to the film’s story and character development.

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Its despicable and contradictory particularly when we have a film that blatantly conveys child suicide (The Woman in Black) slapped with a harmless 12A certificate, meaning any child under 12 is ok to see it when accompanied by an adult and a film that includes a scene of a baby being raped (A Serbian Film) despite being passed with cuts, the edits made makes it ten times worse! A Serbian Film is actually now available on youtube in full. The controversial baby rape scene has been justified as acting as a ‘metaphor’ for life in Serbia, so how is  Hate Crime any different in what it depicts as a reflection of anti-Semitism in society, a universal threat.

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It begs the question, who is really qualified to be censoring films. Films are subjective, we are all capable of making our own decisions on what we subject ourselves to. There are scenes of rape, violence and graphic murder in many genre films, so why is Hate Crime being singled out here, because its an easy target being a low budget indie film? It goes to show that the BBFC haven’t got their arse out of the 80s!

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On that note, please keep supporting independent film.

My 2012 Review of Hate Crime.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Sneak Preview: Ryan M. Andrews, Save Yourself Trailer & Stills.

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Happy March horror freaks! To kick off the site this month here’s a sneak preview of the female fronted Canadian horror/thriller, Save Yourself. Starring indie Scream Queens Jessica Cameron (Truth or Dare) and Tristan Risk (American Mary), Save Yourself follows five female filmmakers heading out to LA in order to attend a big movie premiere. Along the way one of these fearless females goes missing and the remaining four find themselves in danger as a mad scientist plans to use them for some twisted and mysterious research!

The team behind the film including director Ryan M. Andrews (Sick: Survive the Night) and producer Jessica Cameron promise well-written strong women and the challenging of horror stereotypes while creating a visually appealing and artful film. Save Yourself has completed post-production and is ready to hit the festival circuit later this year. Save Yourself is set to be the movie that celebrates everything women in horror which is exceptionally cool. It’ll be one to watch out for in 2015!

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Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.