Archive for October, 2016

Celluloid Screams 2016: We Go On Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Death is always a difficult subject matter, something the human mind struggles to comprehend. This is the case for the troubled and extremely phobic Miles (Clark Freeman) in We Go On; a film that boldly questions the universe’s ultimate unknown mystery, is there life after death?


Ever since experiencing a tragic loss during childhood, Miles is tormented by not knowing what comes after his mortal existence so much so that his obsession leads him into taking out an ad offering $30,000 for anyone who can prove that an afterlife does in fact exist. Of course the situation lures in a number of cranks ready to deceive Miles for a stake at the extortionate amount of money, but the tables take a sinister turn when he receives an ominous voicemail. Along with his over-protective mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole), they set out on a journey of emotional and chilling proportions leading to a discovery that they both could have never imagined.


We Go On is expertly crafted bringing an equal amount of gut punching emotional drama alongside unnerving horror. It keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout as it ventures into unpredictable directions, raising questions about the uncertainty of mortality and death. At its core it’s a very human story. The lead character is complexly constructed as instead of living in the moment, his whole life is determined by whether there is a greater purpose beyond his current state of being. Annette O’Toole and Clark Freeman play the dynamics between mother and son as believable with layered performances, it’s a great balance having her character as the skeptic and him as having faith. One of the central standout performances however goes to Jay Dunn as Nelson, an ambiguous character that plays a big role in the chain of events on Miles’s journey. Hands down, Dunn provides the creepiest performance of 2016 so far.


The film also reunites O’Toole with her Smallville co-star John Glover. Glover plays Dr. Ellison, a character that displays intent to aid Miles’s quest for answers leading to tension and conflict with Ellison and Charlotte’s mistrust of him.


Directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton take on a challenging concept and portray it effectively. With it’s melancholic and enigmatic tone that is aided by the bleak cinematography, We Go On is a strong film from the supernatural sub-genre. It’s a slow burn that keeps the audience guessing until it’s unveil which results in heart-rendering moments. We Go On is a film that easily gets under the skin and leaves us questioning whether it’s better not knowing if there’s really something after death.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews



Celluloid Screams 2016: Dearest Sister Review

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Dearest Sister (Nong Hak) is the second feature film from Lao Director Mattie Do following on from 2013’s Chanthaly. Mattie’s work is groundbreaking for several reasons; firstly Laos has a very small film production with only 13 films to this date being produced in the country. Secondly, Mattie is the only female director to have made horror movies in Laos and faced creative restrictions in how much graphic imagery she could visualize on screen which include both gore and scenes of intimacy between actors. With a strong crowd funding campaign behind her courtesy of Indie Go Go, Dearest Sister proved to be a passionate project and has resulted in a potential trilogy of films focusing on the characterization of women in Laos.

Dearest Sister 2.png

Starring Amphaiphun Phommapunya in her third on screen role, her debut being ChanthalyDearest Sister centers on Nok, a young village girl who travels to Laos capital city Vientiane to care for her visually impaired cousin Ana (Vilouna Phetmany). Ana faces vulnerability and confusion as her sight begins to fail her. She then develops a paranormal ability to communicate with the dead which Nok uses to her own advantage.
Dearest Sister 1.png
Dearest Sister is an intriguing character study of female hierarchy and the place of women within their own society and culture. It depicts Ana, the wealthy housewife who’s status was achieved through marriage to an Estonian man. Her role is complex due to being looked down on by her peers and detested by her servants. Nok is portrayed as coming from a poor village however through her familial association with Ana she is again met with resentment from the maids. Instructed by Ana’s strict husband Jakob, Nok is to care for Ana but is permitted from partaking in domestic housework. The dynamics shift throughout the film which adds to the compelling drama. Amphaiphun Phommapunya who previously played a more empathetic part in Chanthaly is given a edgier role this time around, she’s an untrustworthy protagonist. Nok isn’t necessarily bad however her poor upbringing and experience of a higher class in her cousin’s home motivates her to look out for herself financially which results in her using Ana’s “gift” for her own gain. The film’s underbelly is layered with the ghostly subtext and Mattie presents the idea of a spiritual world with subtly. The idea of fear and an otherworldly presence is created through the atmosphere coming across as genuinely spine chilling rather than using the obvious jump scares tactics.
 The film offers up something different in comparison to any genre film on the circuit this year as well as any female fronted horror film that has emerged during 2016. You won’t find Lottery ghosts anywhere else! Dearest Sister is an authentic portrayal of Lao culture amidst a horror subtext. It’s cinematography is beautifully composed, the characters are compelling to watch aided by strong performances by the cast, namely Amphaiphun Phommapunya and Vilouna Phetmany in the leading roles, there’s a naturalistic quality about them. Mattie Do is setting the standard for Lao horror and Lao filmmaking and is a director to look out for.
The Ghostface Girls interviewed Mattie Do and Producer Annick Mahnert at Celluloid Screams here.
Dearest Sister will screen at the Abertoir Horror Festival in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre  on Thursday the 17th November at 12:00pm.
Hayley Alice Roberts
Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Damnationland 2016: White Drift Review

Posted in Bonfire Films, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Bonfire Films, led by husband and wife team Corey and Haley Norman have established themselves as quality horror filmmakers in recent years. Known for ghostly feature The Hanover House, 80’s inspired, urban legend Tickle and more recently for adapting Stephen King’s short story Suffer The Little Children to the screen, the award-winning Maine based duo offer up a different kind of beast for this year’s Damnationland Festival with White Drift.


White Drift centres on Peter (Sean Carmichael) an ex-army recruit passing through a small town in Maine to seek out an old friend and fellow soldier. The locals immediately notice something isn’t quite right with the ambiguous drifter as he experiences strange withdrawal symptoms. Intrigued by the mysterious Peter is waitress Abby (Kristi Ray- Pieces of Talent) who offers him her kindness and appears genuinely concerned. Unbeknown to her Peter harbours a dark secret and faces a moral dilemma that inevitably will result in devastating consequences.


There’s always a fascinating aspect to the werewolf as a monster in the moral sense and the concept is executed well in this short. With heightened sound effects, Norman establishes a sense of what Peter is experiencing and how the physical changes are affecting him. It’s a real build up of slow burning tension before the wolf is unleashed on the audience, allowing a sense of gut-wrenching dread.

A melancholic tone is presented throughout, aided by grey visuals within the cinematography. It’s certainly a brave move portraying the werewolf concept as a metaphor for PTSD after army life especially as it’s such a raw subject that holds such relevance in our society. However, the subject matter does work creating a powerful and dramatic narrative.

Both Sean Carmichael and Kristi Ray are impressive in their roles. We’re only experiencing their story for a short time but they manage to draw us in with their naturalistic performances. Carmichael portrays Peter as troubled, confused and frightened as he searches for the only person in the world who can help him. Kristi Ray plays Abby as sympathetic and genuine but also curious as to what’s wrong with the mysterious stranger.

Funds for the special effects were achieved through Bonfire Films IndieGoGo Campaign which allowed the team to animate a ferocious looking werewolf for the pinnacle moment in the movie. The appearance of the Wolf brings in an 80’s B-Movie vibe to it and is more impressive that some werewolf guises that have been created on a bigger budget. White Drift is an example of a crowd-funding movie that is of a high standard and exceptional quality.


Bonfire Films Writer and Director Haley and Corey Norman.

White Drift will be screening at Damnationland 2016 this October. Damnationland takes place annually in Portland, Maine and supports local filmmakers in the Horror and Thriller genres. Check out their website for more information and all that cool stuff!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.