Archive for the Women in Horror Recognition Month Category

Celluloid Screams 2016: The Devil’s Candy Review

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones) brings his second feature film to the big screen with a blood soaked, satanic offering, The Devil’s Candy. The movie centers on an unconventional family who move into a new home, unaware of the deadly secret it harbors and the impact it’s about to have on their lives. The Hellmen’s consist of self-employed artist and metalhead Dad Jesse (Ethan Embry), his patient, understanding wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and his chip off the old block young daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco). Immediately the family encompass a likable quality that keeps the audience involved in their story from the outset. Jesse is a Metallica loving, doting father, his relationship with Zooey is lovely to watch with his protectiveness towards her played as heart-warming. Once peril arises for the family in the form of the tormented former owner, Byrne’s direction effortlessly endears the audience to them but makes the villain (Pruitt Taylor Vince) interesting and complex enough to garner a slight empathy for him initially.

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In comparison to The Loved Ones, The Devil’s Candy has a completely different tone. Whereas The Loved Ones is an extremely nasty and gritty watch, The Devil’s Candy is a more polished effort that doesn’t take the same uncomfortable turns as Byrne’s debut offering although it does come with its intense moments. In terms of the production quality, The Devil’s Candy demonstrates how Byrne has developed as a filmmaker. He uses striking visuals particularly the disturbing art work Jesse unveils that foreshadows dark events as they happen and what’s to come.

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The plot is the kind we have seen before, with the creepy house setting and a terrorized family however it’s the core characters that make The Devil’s Candy a compelling film. Byrne writes them as multi-layered and relate-able. There is a strong sense that Jesse and Astrid are polar opposites in some respects, him the artist and her the career woman. She isn’t as fond of his taste in metal music as the daughter is however there’s an implied sense of her once having a rebellious nature in order for the attraction and relationship to work between them. As the troubled teenager Zooey is portrayed as having a strong supportive parental network behind her which is refreshing to see. In their own rights, each of them are strong characters and go out on a limb for each other. This isn’t a movie where it’s just the male character depicted as the heroic type.

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There’s a distinct theme throughout of the relationship between horror and heavy metal that usually comes with a negative stigma attached relating to its association with violence. There’s such a positive portrayal in this film of characters who enjoy and consume dark material but on the outside they are the most grounded and genuine, every day people which was satisfying to see from two genres that normally receive a bad rep.

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Byrne delivers something fresh which is a world away from The Loved Ones, cementing is versatility and growth as a filmmaker. Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco are outstanding in their performances, bringing depth, emotion and shared chemistry to their characters. Glasco is a young actress to look out for and delivered the standout performance from a young performer in a genre film this year so far. Also, be sure to look out for a cameo from Leland Orser (Faults, The Guest).

The Devil’s Candy is absolutely awesome, a movie that ends with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at the end credits certainly rocks!!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

Celluloid Screams 2016: Pet Review

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

On the surface Pet appears to be a conventional cat and mouse thriller but this is actually not the case. Directed by Carles Torrens (Apartment 143, ABC’s of Death 2.5) with a screenplay by Jeremy Slater ( The Lazarus Effect), Pet is a genre defying film, placing a refreshing spin on an overdone concept. Starring Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo in two powerhouse performances, Pet takes the term “deadly obsession” to a whole new, twisted level.

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Like many of the films that screened at 2016’s Celluloid Screams Horror Film Festival, it’s advisable to go into Pet knowing very little about the plot in order to get the full jaw dropping experience.

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Monaghan plays Seth, a loner living a mundane existence working at the dog pound. Out of the blue, he comes across his high school crush, Holly on the bus home one day. Seth rapidly becomes interested in her to an unhealthy degree and starts hanging around a bit too often for Holly’s liking. When Holly brutally knocks him back events take a turn for the sinister as Seth captures his romantic interest and locks her in a cage located in the basement of his work place in order to teach her a lesson; but has Seth literally bitten off more than he can chew? and what are the mysterious secrets that Holly is harboring?

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As stated at the beginning of this review Pet isn’t what it seems. If you’re looking for a typical captive/torture flick, this is not that film. Pet is an intensifying slow burn that once it turns the tables they just keep on turning. Monaghan and Solo display intense chemistry in their roles, providing engaging performances to an edge of the seat effect. Both characters are equally as complex with layers of hidden depth. Modern horror is seeing an increase is strong, celebrated female characters and Pet certainly explores that and twists classic horror tropes. Holly proves to be an empowered character as the film progresses while her appearance reflects the typical pretty, blonde victim that features prominently in the slasher film.

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Pet is everything a horror film should be; incorporating intense, emotional moments to the downright horrific. It’s psychological horror at it’s best and it’s no surprise that’s one of 2016’s most talked about films on the festival circuit due to it’s innovative take on a tired horror cliche. Nail-biting until the bitter end, Pet dares to be different and is utterly unforgettable.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2016: Raw Review

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Julia Ducournau’s critically acclaimed Raw (Original Title: Grave) is currently the most talked about horror movie of the year. Taking place in a veterinary school, Raw is the story of strict vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier), a naive young girl starting out in university, away from the rigid views of her parents. Following an initiation in which she is pressured into consuming raw meat, Justine goes down a dangerous path when her cravings begin to grow.

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Firstly, what needs to be addressed when discussing Raw is the hysteria surrounding it. Much like 2015’s The Witch, it is the film that is described as the most eagerly anticipated, one that all movie goers must see. The hype has been driven further by claims that the film caused fainting during it’s screening at the Toronto International Film Festival due to being “too intense” and that audience members required medical attention. Yes, these kind of reports will draw in curious cinema goers but when it comes down to it, the “hype” could become detrimental to the overall viewing of the film. Bottom line, don’t expect some nasty, shocking gore film. Without a doubt, Raw is an excellent piece of cinema and it is one of the best genre movies of 2016, but is it pass-out inducing? No!

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There is of course gore, there are squeamish moments however they are shot and edited in such a skilful way that much is left to the imagination alone rather than the film including lingering, gross out scenes that will provoke nauseating reactions from the audience. Raw is an artistic film in terms of how it’s composed visually with a strong narrative flowing throughout. It has something for all kinds of cinema fans from those who enjoy art house, to straight up horror fans.

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Comparisons have been drawn between the 2000 monster, coming-of-age movie Ginger Snaps starring Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins. Raw does in fact share similar themes. It’s a tale of two sisters, it’s a metaphor for growing up, experiencing change and the influence of a new and different environment. While the narratives of both films share a likeness, Raw is it’s own beast and a strong example of how versatile the genre can be in terms of taking a familiar concept and being innovative with it, which is what Ducournau has achieved.

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Amidst all the shock and panic centring the film, the most surprising factor of Raw is how darkly funny it is. Certain moments are unexpectedly dark and take the audience by surprise that it’s difficult not to be amused by the fantastical nature of it all. The gore effects themselves are realistic enough to cause a sense of discomfort, namely when Justine experiences physical reactions after eating meat.

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Another of Raw’s strongest point is it’s portrayal of female characters. It proves how far the genre has come in terms of three dimensional female leads. Women are no longer helpless damsels in distress being chased after by a mad man only to end up hacked to pieces. Raw proves how the gender tables can turn. The film explores female sexuality and female characters taking control of their own decisions which is refreshing to see. It celebrates the female body and doesn’t shy away in terms of what it shows but is also tastefully shot. Both Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf (Alexia- Justine’s older, more experienced sister) are outstanding in their performances.

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Hands down, Raw is one of the horror films to watch in 2016 and is certainly one of the most incredibly brilliant films to emerge on the festival circuit this year. It completely deserves it’s mainstream release courtesy of Universal Pictures in Spring 2017 as it will introduce more casual horror viewers to something different from the usual Hollywood fare. It’s best to go in knowing very little and enjoying everything it has to offer. The one piece of advice to approach Raw with is ignore all the silly hype and just see for yourselves what a fantastic film it really is.

As a Horror Fan and a Vegetarian Raw is a genre film that will be most welcome in my collection when it’s eventually released.

Raw is screening at the Abertoir Horror Festival on Friday, 18th November at 10pm at the Aberystwyth Arts Cente.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Sorority Life is Killer! Initial Thoughts on Scream Queens!

Posted in Press Release, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**Contains Moderate Spoilers**

Its finally here! Scream Queens received its 2 part pilot episodes over on Fox last Tuesday night. The Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck created series is exactly what it says it is, a real Scream! A love letter to all things 80s and 90s from the soundtrack down to the style; Scream Queens is the darkest of comedy horror with off the wall humour, set pieces full of satire and a homage to everything from Heathers and Jawbreaker to Clueless with the wit and self-referential style of the likes of Wes CravenKevin Williamson and Joss Whedon. Its all that and much more.

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American Horror Story favourite Emma Roberts steals the show playing the bitchiest of all bitches, Chanel Oberlin. With equal measures of malice and venom, Roberts exaggerates the typical Queen B, sorority leader in an over the top fashion. Watching her back is sharp university dean Cathy Munsch, played by the iconic Jamie Lee Curtis who makes plans to turn the sorority into an empowered sisterhood by accepting everyone and anyone who wishes to pledge! But even its notions of feminism is poked fun at keeping everything completely tongue in cheek.

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Everything is in order until Skyler Samuels’s Grace Gardner comes on the scene. It wouldn’t be a slasher without the outsider with a mysterious past, coming in to shake things up. Grace is no pushover, so has the ruthless Chanel, finally met her match?!

The pilot begins all the way back in 1995, when TLC were at the top of the charts and sororities were all about keeping up appearances (but as soon as it flips to the present day, it shows nothing has changed!).  A young woman walks into the middle of a party with blood all over her hands and from them on its just the perfect tease that lures us into an offbeat world, where you won’t believe what happens next!

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The highlight has to be Ariana Grande as Chanel #2’s face off with a mysterious killer known as The Red Devil, that goes to show murder in the modern day is nothing quite like what you’ve seen before! Abigail Breslin’s Chanel #5, is already a firm favourite, they say its always the quiet ones, so here’s hoping she’ll have some sort of impact as the series progresses.

Its slick, fast-paced, taboo-breaking, slashertastic fun!  Scream Queens plays up to its genre tropes and takes it up to the max with a great big devilish grin on its face!

If you thought the rubber man in AHS: Murder House was weird…you ain’t seen nothing yet!

You will never order a pumpkin spiced latte at your local Starbucks in the same way again!

Bring on Episode 2!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Jamie Lee Curtis goes Psycho for Scream Queens!

Posted in Press Release, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

This image is pure horror perfection. In Ryan Murphy’s (American Horror Story) eagerly anticipated new series, Scream Queens, Halloween icon Jamie Lee Curtis recreates her mother Janet Leigh’s famous shower scene from Hitchcock’s legendary chiller Psycho (1960). 

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Curtis tweeted that she recreated the photo especially for a special episode of the new show, which is slicing its way onto our screens on September the 22nd! Very exciting indeed.

 

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Bait (AKA. The Taking) (2015) Review.

Posted in Horror Festivals, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The struggles of post-recession Britain is the subject matter for Dominic Brunt’s brand new hard-hitting feature, Bait (AKA. The Taking). Bait is the second full-length genre film from collaborative husband and wife team Mitchell-Brunt Films following 2012’s zombie drama Before Dawn. Much like Before Dawn, Bait is a bleak, gritty and powerful piece of British cinema however packs an even harder punch with its all too realistic subject matter and no holds barred violence.

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Adapted from a story by Writer/Actress/Producer Joanne Mitchell; Paul Roundell’s screenplay is intensely compelling as it focuses on two close friends who endure a terrifying ordeal at the hands of a dangerous loan shark in a sleepy Yorkshire village. Bex (Victoria Smurfit) and Dawn (Mitchell) attempt to make their dream of running their own café a reality after years of hard yet unrewarding work selling cakes at their local market hall. Their luck seemingly begins to change once they meet the charming and charismatic Jeremy (Jonathan Slinger); an independent businessman who is more than willing to help them get their new business up and running. But is there more to Jeremy than meets the eye? Have Bex and Dawn got more than they ever bargained for?

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Bait proves to be a gripping edge of the seat horror/thriller, with plenty of twists and turns around every corner. The characters are layered, dynamic and flawed which brings in a sense of realism that the situation at hand could happen to anyone; they reflect everyday people in everyday life. Bait’s main strength is its strong performances from the entire cast. Mitchell and Smurfit are flawless as the two friends, determined to improve their lives. Both actresses work extremely well together, with believable chemistry. Smurfit brings a certain feistiness to Bex while Mitchell plays Dawn with a timid nature. The two characters opposing traits complement each other, allowing the audience to empathize with both and get a sense of their individual motivations.

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Jonathan Slinger is outstanding as the menacing Jeremy in an unforgettable performance. His ability to frighten and intimidate is a horrifying watch. He makes it incredibly easy to root for our heroines once the stakes are raised. The film also stars Rula Lenska (Coronation Street) and film and television actor Adam Fogerty, both bring in strong screen presences playing characters with vital roles within the story.

Bait is interesting in what it does. It’s an exceptionally difficult film to watch in several ways containing both disturbing and some upsetting moments. It’s highly intense throughout and unrelenting. However a sense of humour is not completely obliterated from the film as Brunt throws in some light relief amongst the tension. Fans of Inbred will get a kick out of a cameo from everyone’s favourite ferret fondler Mark Rathbone!

The use of sound is incredibly effective allowing the audience to get a sense of what the characters are experiencing. The bleak cinematography captures a chilling tone with lingering shots that create extreme dread in the more distressing moments.

Bait not only operates as a disturbing thriller, it highlights important issues within British society. The focal point is of course financial struggle in our desolate economic climate; and the vulnerability of the elderly, the very young and autism is also explored through this. Bait also looks at the flaws within the system, the failings of the authorities and sexual abuse.

An intelligent, well-acted thriller with an all too very realistic theme, it’s a story of survival, endurance and friendship in the hardest of times.

Bait premiers at this year’s London’s Film4FrightFest on August 29th and will be released on DVD in the UK on September 7th.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Twisted Twins go Plastic..!

Posted in Press Release, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Jen and Sylvia Soska are one of the hottest things about current horror, from grindhouse to body modification to WWE, the Twisted Twins have put their own unique and versatile stamp on the genre. Over the weekend they generated much excitement for fans with the announcement of their next directorial project titled Plastic;  just in time for the release of their latest WWE collaboration the action-packed Vendetta on June 12th in the US (UK DVD release is August 13th). An image of a script with a lipstick mark emerged online said to be written by Frank Strausser that simply screams female-centric horror.

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As it stands, a brief teaser of the plot has been revealed:

“A celebrated Beverly Hills plastic surgeon risks everything to uncover the truth behind a crime, the disfigurement of an international pop star.”

If one things for certain, the Soska’s and surgical horror are the perfect fit after them stunning audiences in 2012 with American Mary. No doubt in the hands of Jen and Sylvia, Plastic will be a grizzly yet stylish effort. Can’t wait to hear more about the project. Plastic has to be the most exciting news in horror this year!

tumblr_npe3qdDxHT1t0demio2_1280Keep updated with Plastic on the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Plastic/1442681832700533?pnref=story

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.