Archive for Celluloid Screams 2014

The Guest (2014) Review.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following the less than favourable review of You’re Next earlier this year, it may come as surprising that I gave Adam Wingard another chance. The main motivation for checking out this year’s Film4’s FrightFest’s opening film was due to the soundtrack being played at the 2014 Celluloid Screams Horror Festival prior to the screenings which piqued my interest. A couple of tracks including ‘Because I Love You (The Postman Song)’ by Stevie B and ‘Anthonio (Berlin Breakdown Version)’ by Annie were featured as part of our Ghostface Girls coverage. After discovering the songs were from the film’s soundtrack it was finally nice to have some context provided and also the wonderment of what kind of film would these songs be included in. One thing for certain was that if The Guest didn’t meet the high expectations that the horror community had suggested then at least the music would be an enjoyable factor. The synth powered soundtrack cements The Guest’s Drive (2011) comparisons that borders on homage and parody.

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Its all too good to be true when a young soldier from the US army turns up uninvited at the door of the Peterson family. Mourning the loss of their own son Caleb in the war, David Collins fills the void he left behind and gets his feet firmly under the table claiming to be a friend of their deceased son. With the vulnerable and grieving Peterson family welcoming him in, David begins to show there’s more to him than meets the eye. The Guest ramps up its suspense through the majority of the film, leaving us question who is David or more appropriately, what is he? As the Peterson’s young daughter’s Anna’s suspicions grow will the family realize how dangerous their charming new guest really is?

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The Guest is Wingard’s love letter to 80’s action movies and thrillers such as The Terminator. Its a hybrid of genres that somehow work well together creating a mind-blowing movie experience whether you love it or hate it. Before it starts to sound like I’m wholeheartedly praising the film it must be said that it isn’t without its flaws. Some of the editing is shoddy with abrupt cuts used to end scenes without fully developing them. The opening scene was slightly problematic  as it begins with the mysterious David descending on the Peterson household without establishing them as a family unit. It places us straight into the action without allowing much introduction which would have created a stronger bond and empathy between audience and characters.

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The film’s strength lies in its high octane tension and superb performances from the cast. British actor Dan Stevens (Downton Abby) portrays David with charm, enigma and a sense of danger bringing in a highly entertaining performance. Maika Monroe is equally as phenomenal as Anna, the only family member not completely fooled by David and suspects there’s something much darker at play with him. Monroe keeps us gripped throughout, she portrays Anna as a smart and sophisticated young woman who will do whatever it takes to protect her family. The dynamic between David and the Peterson’s youngest son Luke (Brendan Meyer) creates some intense and powerful moments as Luke becomes embroiled in David’s unorthodox methods of dealing with high school bullies. Meyer delivers a strong performance as the brooding teenager. Sheila Kelley is the vulnerable and naive mother Laura. Consumed by grief for the loss of her eldest son, there’s a sense of longing about her making her one of the more susceptible characters to David’s charming tactics. Leland Orser plays the father Spencer, a broken man who loses his authoritative grip on his household. In an interesting shift of dynamics Spencer is not the typical patriarchal type, he is apathetic and accepting of David from the beginning. Leland Orser is certainly an actor to keep an eye out for. His performance is naturalistic and believable, however his range as an actor can be seen in Faults (2014) a deeply psychological thriller that also toured the festival circuit this year.

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Simon Barrett’s (Wingard’s collaborative parter) script is unapologetic. Together with Wingard they have created the movie they wanted to make, a throwback to the genres they love. While it may not be to everyone’s tastes, particularly with the shift in tone from traditional, compelling thriller to all out action packed violence and the ambiguity that surrounds David’s experience in the US army, The Guest remains a hell of a thrill ride that keeps us on the edge of our seats. However, toward the end there are moments that disappoint and seem unnecessary to the story but as previously stated its affected by the shift in tone and the unapologetic nature of Wingard’s direction of where he intended the film to go. While both The Guest and You’re Next deal with broken family dynamics and mindless violence, The Guest ranks high above Barrett and Wingard’s take on the slasher sub-genre with more stylish cinematography, stronger performances and humanized characters. Between the two films there is a clear trend of a slow, intense build up that results in all out carnage. The Guest is a film that’s unique in its own way. Theoretically it has something for everyone with its twist on a number of genres. The movie’s last line (which I won’t reveal here) perfectly sums up the craziness that unfolds throughout.

Welcome David as your Guest this New Year with a UK DVD and Blu-Ray release released December 29th!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Ghostface Girls: Celluloid Screams Coverage, Playlist.

Posted in Ghostface Girls with tags , , , , on November 7, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Over on MoviePilot we have posted the full playlist of our Celluloid Screams Horror Festival Coverage. Check out our instant reactions to the frightfully fulfilling films that were on offer in Sheffield on the weekend of the 24th-26th October. We recorded our seventh podcast episode this evening which will be available soon, stay tuned!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams: Starry Eyes (2014)

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Thinking of a Hollywood movie career? Well think again! Starry Eyes takes a bleak and cynical look at the price of fame within a stylish backdrop in Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s occult  feature.

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Determined to succeed and become a star, struggling actress Sarah (Alex Essoe) does whatever it takes to become the leading lady in the latest film of famed production company Astraeus Pictures. Working in a thankless waitressing job at a greasy diner and co-habiting with a group of fellow striving actors and filmmakers, Sarah’s frustrations and desire for success leads her down a dark and sinister path to the point of no return.

When Starry Eyes was first announced as part of this year’s festival line-up, it carried enough ambiguity about it through its trailer, generating plenty of intrigue.  A lone woman walks the streets of LA, framed in a way to demonstrate that the city of dreams is bigger than she’ll ever be to a synth-tastic soundtrack that could be straight out of a Dario Argento film (Suspiria being the one Starry Eyes emulates the most). Starry Eyes was therefore one of the most-anticipated films of 2014 with its concept holding a great appeal.

For the most part Starry Eyes is consistent in what it does. It’s dark and places a sense of dread throughout as it portrays the movie industry in an unpleasant light. There’s a disturbing vibe as Sarah becomes more and more distant from those around her and so far removed from reality as she chases the dream. Sarah is quite a complex character as it’s difficult to know whether to root for her, from the beginning it’s insinuated that she looks down on her actor friends, holding a sense of superiority through her quiet confidence and she doesn’t manage redeem herself the deeper we get into her story. This is something unusual for a character-centred piece. While Sarah’s characterisation’s  problematic at the same time it’s a daring move on the filmmakers part to create this cutthroat character who we feel is no more deserving than anyone else within the film.

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Sarah idolizes the starlets of the past and her goal is to be in their position whatever the cost. We observe her unethical auditions that become more and more nightmarish as they go on. The flashing lights effect that’s used creates a feeling of disorientation and the performances The Casting Director (Maria Olsen), The Assistant (Mark Senter) and the Producer (Louis Dezeran) get under the skin with their exceptionally creepy presences. The fact they are also nameless characters ramps up the creep factor as they could be any filmmaking company anywhere in Hollywood and questions that other than Sarah, how many other girls is this happening to; placing emphasis on the ficklness of the industry.

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The point where Starry Eyes falls flat is it goes from being this mysterious and startling chiller to what can only be described as a generic slasher. It loses its way completely creating uninterest and disappointment.  We see what’s coming as it doesn’t attempt to move away from predictability. As Caitlyn stated in her review of the film, it shifts directions on too many occasions that it becomes a chore to watch which is ultimately a shame. The finale therefore manages to leave the audience cold.

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Starry Eyes is a mesmerizing, interesting and ambitious film that takes the dark side of fame to a whole other disturbing level. It certainly stands out in its own way. 80’s pop group Bros once asked, “When will I be famous?” well the answer is when you’re prepared to sacrifice your sanity for a slice of the Hollywood machine.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2014: Housebound Review.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

From writer and director Richard Johnstone comes the spine-tingling horror/comedy Housebound. This frightening feature from New Zealand has just the right balance of shocks and scares and laugh out loud dark humour that it’s proved to be one of the most entertaining horror films of 2014. If movies such as An American Werewolf in London and Inbred appeal to your terrifying tastes then Housebound is the film that wholeheartedly compliments them in tone just with a supernatural twist. It features gripping storytelling; layered and well developed characters and an abundance of suspense to keep the audience compelled. Housebound is a film that’s not purely exclusive to just genre fans as it displays enough commercial appeal to widen out to a broader audience. Who doesn’t love a bit of ghosts and blood?!

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Twenty-something tearaway Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is placed under house arrest following an illegal botched job gone wrong. Returning under the guidance of her domineering mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and timid Step-Father Graeme (Ross Harper), Kylie is not pleased in the slightest about the re-location to her former family home. Kylie displays an aversion toward the house she grew up in but dismisses her mother’s claims of some sort of paranormal activity going on. It’s not until Kylie experiences some strange occurrences herself that she begins to realize her mother’s claims may not be as crazy as she first imagined.

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Housebound’s strongest point is the dynamic between Kylie and Miriam. A strained relationship between the pair is portrayed that comes across as incredibly naturalistic, which is down to the chemistry between the two actresses. The supernatural element is in place as a mask that represents the anxieties of mother and daughter reconnecting after a turbulent relationship and years of distance. Immediately it’s believable that these two have experienced a long and difficult history when we first meet them, a credit to Johnstone’s well-crafted and in-depth script.

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Kylie is an interesting leading horror female. She’s obnoxious yet endearing which makes us root for her as she displays a strong sense of determination in solving the problems she’s faced with and isn’t afraid to break the rules a little bit. It’s a bit risky having such a sarcastic, moody character as the lead however Johnstone’s writing and Morgana O’Reilly’s performance manages to keep us engaged with her and keep firmly on her side when she’s faced with danger. In comparison to Excision (2012), a film that contains a highly unlikeable main character with no redeeming features, Housebound gets it right in terms of depicting Kylie as a frustrated young woman who acts out against those who are trying to help her but underneath she has several likeable qualities, making her an ambitious woman of horror in terms of her construction.

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Housebound is a modern-day paranoid horror that cleverly keeps us guessing until the very end with its brilliant blend of supernatural scares and charming comedy. Is the house inhabited by a spooky presence or is it all a reflection of Kylie’s overactive imagination or is she acting out of boredom due to being on house lock-up, or possibly something else entirely?  There are other interesting elements at work such as the temperamental television and computer, cutting them off from technology and acting as a metaphor for this family to sit down, communicate and address their problems.

The setting gives off plenty of creepy vibes with the old, creaky, isolated house that provides an uneasy feeling. Jump scares are carried out effectively and take us by surprise in comparison to the predictability of a lot of Hollywood haunting films. Supporting characters such as Miriam bring light relief to the tense moments. Glen-Paul Waru also adds to the light-heartedness as the loyal friend Amos, a quirky ‘paranormal expert’ who is incredibly well-meaning in aiding Kylie and Miriam. Cameron Rhodes is the bumbling psychologist who Kylie treats as more of a hindrance than a help, which again supplies the film with more intense antagonism as Kylie struggles to trust anyone.

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Housebound is a must-see, it’s a genre-bending balance of scares and laughs that contains twists and turns and plenty of mystery making it an especially worthwhile watch. Housebound will be screening at the Abertoir Horror Festival on Thursday 13th November at 1pm. Passes are £58 to see a selection of diverse films like Housebound plus talks, a theatre performance, a train ride and an 80’s disco. Abertoir 2014 will be discussed in more depth in the upcoming seventh episode of the Ghostface Girls podcast.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2014: Spring Review.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

A young American man named Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) ventures to Italy from California following the tragic death of his mother to cancer. Along the way he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful, enigmatic woman who captures his heart. The two embark on an intense romance set in the Italian backdrop; however how much do we really know about a person in the early stages of a relationship? Spring certainly explores this with a mythological metaphor that brings in its own unique take on the ‘creature feature’.

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When you began reading this I bet you thought, ‘is she actually talking about a horror movie?’ Spring is the perfect example of the diverseness of the horror genre. There’s a romantic drama at the film’s core with the horror elements in place as representations for the anxieties of a new relationship, with Louise harbouring a dark secret which will threaten what she and Evan have begun to develop. The trope of the tourist in a foreign country is also at play however is portrayed with its own originality that makes it stand apart from other genre-related films that contains this plotline. Spring could be considered a slow-burner as it takes its time to craft its storytelling and develop the characters; it’s in no rush to get to any big revelations straight away which gives the film an excellent quality.

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Spring is Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s second feature following the superb Resolution from 2012. Once again the directorial duo have created a film with an incredible level of depth in exploring human relationships. Much like Resolution centred on the state of friendship in a life-threatening situation, Spring replicates this with the focus on romantic relations. Moorhead’s flawless cinematography captures the idyllic Italian location, bringing out a sense of romanticism and showcasing what a beautiful place Puglia is. There’s plenty of humour injected into the film that adds to its realistic edge (when you take out the monster angle!), there’s a typical yet tongue-in-cheek Welsh joke that was particularly a surprising addition.

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As well as the sharp direction and breath-taking cinematography the greatest strength in Spring is the performances from lead actors Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker as the lovers. Both are convincing combined with undeniable chemistry that bring Evan and Louise to life, enabling the audience to invest in them as characters and care about what will happen to them. Pucci plays Evan as determined as he enters a new transitional phase in his life, Benson writes him as the type of guy who lives for the moment. Nadia Hilker is a very striking actress; she portrays Louise as a vulnerable individual, struggling to deal with what’s happening to her but as the kind of woman who will put on a front with others to mask her anxieties.

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With gripping writing, captivating visuals, its own creative mythology and phenomenal performances, Spring is the most outstanding film of Celluloid Screams 2014. Now having two fantastic pieces of work in the bag, it’ll be intriguing to see what Moorhead and Benson will come up with next as they’re becoming two innovative filmmakers to watch. Without explicitly putting a particular genre label on their films, Moorhead and Benson prove to be daring in their vision offering something different for film-going audiences.

 

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Poll: Which Halloween Month Article Did You like the most? + Ghostface Girls.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Halloween Month, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Just a fun little feedback poll for my readers.

With #HalloweenMonth on the site at an end, which article did you guys enjoy reading the most and what are you most likely to watch on the special day, this October 31st?!

 

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On another note please check out my side project Ghostface Girls latest podcast, Episode 6: Celluloid Screaming. We talk Friday’s upcoming Sheffield Horror Festival, Abertoir’s Halloween events in Cardiff and a couple of things we’re looking forward to at the Aberystwyth Festival in November. We discuss our plans for an upcoming ‘nasty’ little video to be filmed at Abertoir and we want YOU guys to get involved. Fast forward to the end of the podcast to find out how!

You can listen to the latest episode here.

For Caitlyn’s site visit: http://scaredsheepless.com/ for a spooky article on The Woman in Black. 

Also check out our Facebook page, we’re aiming for 100 likes by Friday! Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far.

You can also tweet us at @GhostfaceGirls

I will see you guys at Celluloid Screams and will return with plenty of video coverage!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

Shocktastic Scares at Sheffield: What’s going on in Celluloid Screams 2014!

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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The eagerly anticipated line-up was announced today for Sheffield’s scariest film festival, Celluloid Screams. One again Rob Nevitt and team didn’t disappoint with a selection of sinisterly intriguing features and shorts. Already announced was the opening gala film, The Editor with special guests Astron-6 in attendance. The Editor looks set to be a throwback to the giallo sub-genre with a retro feel, setting the perfect tone for the festival’s beginning. Astron-6 are the centre of Celluloid’s annual, “The Short Film’s Of…”, which showcases an insight into the work of a particular filmmaker. Astron-6 will no doubt bring some crazy horror to Celluloid’s blood splattered screen!

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Producer and Director Brian Yuzna was also announced as Celluloid’s main special guest this year. Known for Bride of Re-Animator (1989), Beyond Re-Animator (2003),  and The Dentist (1996) plus several others, Yuzna is a frequent collaborator with director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator 1985) and will be partaking in a Q&A about is contribution to the horror genre and helping bring H.P Lovecraft’s work to life. He will also be presenting special screenings of Dagon (2001) which looks the most appealing, Bride Of Re-Animator (included in the all-nighter) and Society (1989) giving us a sense of his interesting career in the genre.

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While not every film I was particularly hoping for is in the line-up (there’s always the secret film!); there is plenty in store to satisfy all our gore-hungry appetites! What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand vampire mockumentary has tongue-in-cheek written over it, coming across as a laugh-out-loud horror comedy.

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Starry Eyes, is one of the most intriguing films on offer with a sense of pure darkness surrounding it, there seems to be an Argento-type familiarity at play as it tells the story of a young, aspiring actress who falls prey to the lure of fame and fortune.

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Suburban Gothic is the second feature from Excision director Richard Bates Jr, while his first film was a mixed bag of mesmerizing visuals up against a strongly unlikeable protagonist, Suburban Gothic feels a lot more watch-able. Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler) is forced to move back in with his domineering parents, following being kicked out of his apartment. Raymond has always inhabited a special gift of communicating with the paranormal,  and is soon put to the test when a vengeful spirit starts terrorizing his small town. Its Tim Burton meets John Waters (who makes a cameo in the trailer!).

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Celluloid are also welcoming back Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson following their fantastic participation at the 2012 festival with their feature Resolution. Their next offering is Spring a darkly fascinating piece focused on a young man who flees to Italy and subsequently begins a romance with a mysterious woman. Spring is described as “Beauty and the Beast by way of Linklater and early Cronenberg”making it sound all the more enthralling.

For those of you who are hardcore, you get a chance to enjoy and endure the All-Nighter, featuring screenings from cross-over Sci-Fi movies including Maximum Overdrive, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Night of the Creeps. 

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One of the most exciting addition’s is the screening of The ABC’s of Death 2, showcasing 26 new directors with 26 new ways to die, judging by the trailer it looks like this sequel has certainly upped its game with plenty of crazy gore for us to feast our eyes on. We look forward to seeing segments from Jen and Sylvia Soska, Aharon Keshales, E.L Katz, Dennison Ramalho plus many more.

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead gives the impression of an absolute crowd-pleaser and will certainly close the festival on a high what more could we want other than a bloody, zombie comedy!

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Ghostface Girls (myself and Caitlyn Downs) will be attending, my fourth festival and her second. Look out for plenty of coverage videos around late October-early November. Plus a new video coming soon!

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All that’s left to say is bring on the blood, guts, gore, vampires and nazi zombies!

Celluloid Screams 2014 potentially could be the best yet!

24th-26th October.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.