Archive for Fairytale

The Short Films of DreamSeekers Productions: A Goblin’s Tale (2011)

Posted in The Short Films of Dream Seekers with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

A Goblin’s Tale was a 2011 offering from Dreamseekers Productions, again directed by Peter Dukes. Even though the short isn’t a direct horror film and slots itself more in the fantasy genre it still incorporates a creepy tone that’s enough to unsettle the viewer. With a minimal setting consisting of a dimly lit living room, A Goblin’s Tale is the story of a young girl (played by Tiffany Giardina) who’s world becomes turned upside down when a menacing goblin named Vix (played by Laura Kearsey) emerges from the pages of her  dusty fairytale book into reality. The short isn’t as straightforward as that as Dukes incorporates an intelligent, post-modern twist that most certainly challenges expectations, making the film very worth-while.

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Kearsey is eerie as the devilish little goblin and gives a standout performance. Her depiction of Vix is slightly reminiscent of Dobby the Elf from the Harry Potter series (2001-2011) and Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon a Time (2011-) among others. For a low-budget short the creature make up is done exceptionally well, producing a strong mythical air to the film. It’s an example of what Dreamseekers do best, using their resources as best as they can to create some fascinating and intriguing visual  stories. Tiffany Giardina’s role as the confused young woman compliments and contrasts Kearsey’s Goblin, being a two-hander both actresses carry the film and keep the viewer engaged for its brief ten minute duration. A Goblin’s Tale has a strong structure and delivers perfectly what any short film intends to do.

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With some clever effects and mesmerizing cinematography in place, particularly the shots of the fairytale book pages. The images that are included illustrate a mystical and folklore-esque context which establishes what A Goblin’s Tale ultimately sets out to do. There is a stunning score that runs throughout that forms a magical feel to the piece and comes across as very atmospheric. A Goblin’s Tale remains appealing to fans of horror while also being a film that has something for everyone and holds suitability for younger audiences.

A Goblin’s Tale is yet another example of the quality and broad work created by this independent film company.

Dreamseekers Productions Official Website.

The Film is available to view here:

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

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ABC’s of Death 2: The Search for the 26th Director.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following the success of the 2012 film, anthology movie The ABC’s Of Death is getting a sequel promising 26 new directors and 26 new ways to die. I for one had mixed feelings about the first offering, but there were glimpses of some well-made horror pieces amongst those that didn’t quite cut it. Hopefully second time round will bring in some more talented directors with an eye for innovative horror, capturing moments of fear within a short run-time. A huge appeal for the second instalment will be seeing what the awesome Jen and Sylvia Soska will have to offer as well as Marcus Dunstan who directed The Collection, a film that I surprisingly enjoyed this year.

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But what’s currently dominating interest in this film is discovering who will win the competition to become ABC’s 26th Director. The winner of the competition will be down to horror fans themselves as they decide between a high standard of entries through an online voting system, closing on Halloween night. More information about that can be found here. In order to help you decide your winner, I’m going to discuss a couple of entries that you should consider from some of my favourite independent genre directors.

M is for Macho. Directed by Jose Pedro Lopes.

If you like a bit of zombies in your horror then look no further. M is for Macho is set on a basketball court where the only thing stopping the lead male and female character reaching the net are a group of braindead zombies! Fearlessly, the female character reaches the net, dodging them in the process but when the male attempts to he is not so successful! M is for Macho is a critique of gender roles using the zombie sub-genre as a backdrop, subverting the idea that “being macho” is associated only with males. To a degree its a feminist piece that challenges ideas of masculinity while not taking itself too seriously. Macho provides sharp cinematography with a lot of attention to detail in every frame, along with a heavy rock soundtrack that suggests competitiveness and aggression. The sunny, outdoor setting really contrasts the horror, however demonstrates that horror doesn’t need to be done in complete darkness in order to create tension. The zombie make up is awesome and the performances are just right, these are some of the best zombies I’ve seen in recent films from the sub-genre. With dark humour and light gore, M is for Macho is an entertaining piece and a strong contender for the competition. This is definitely one that I’d like to see within an anthology film.

M is for Mother. Directed by Corey Norman.

This was an entry I was initially apprehensive about watching due to its dark subject matter as involving children in peril is always going to be difficult viewing. M is for Mother focuses on an every day situation where a mother reads her little girl a bedtime story. The film has a minimalistic setting, the little girl’s pink bedroom which is used effectively while giving a sense of claustrophobia. The entirety of the film feels tense as its not your typical horror fare, it is uncertain of what kind of direction it could go in which leaves the viewer on edge. The mother recites a fairy-tale style story to her adorable daughter about a King and Queen and their Little Princess. As the mother delves deeper into the story about a witch who tore their family apart and stole the King romantically from the Queen, it soon transpires that the story is a mask for the breakdown of the traditional family, something more common within today’s society. With no blood or gore, M is for Mother is frightening on a whole different level. Not one for those who don’t have a strong stomach, I understand Corey Norman’s intentions of representing something that could be considered real life horror and with that in mind there is nothing more unnerving. Effective, tense and long-lasting in the mind I would recommend taking M is for Mother into consideration for its way of creating fear with performance, setting and direction alone.

M is for Marriage. Directed by Todd E. Freeman.

Potentially, this could be my favourite entry. M is for Marriage is a very powerful piece that focuses on the depths of strong emotions including love and hate.  M is for Marriage has been made as a teaser for Freeman’s upcoming feature film Love Sick. If this is the kind of high, dramatic horror that’s in store then Love Sick will be one of the most anticipated modern horror films. Staying true to his style of body horror as seen in Cell Count, Freeman doesn’t disappoint as he uses the concept as a metaphor for the emotions of a relationship. The plot focuses on an experienced therapist Doctor Christian who specialises in the controversial method of Bio-Medical psychotherapy. He is working with a husband and wife who seek help to move forward and overcome past mistakes. The main portion of the film focuses on the wife character who is encouraged to display her anger and hate towards her husband’s infidelity. Her performance is powerful and moving as the film depicts the emotions of hate, love and anger as well as how they look physically which makes a compelling and interesting viewing. I’m completely blown away by this fascinating piece as it depicts something we can all relate to and goes into depth about what it really is to be human. The Doctor provides the insight that we are all connected, there’s an amazing shot that demonstrates this where the head’s of the two characters fade into each other, centrally in the frame. There’s an unexpected twist ending that comes across as satisfying and acts as the crescendo for the intense build-up that came before it. I highly recommend viewing this one for being able to get right under the skin with its subject matter and its attention to creating as much intensity as possible before a satisfying climax.

Definitely check out these unique horror entries that provide a sense of versatility to the genre, its definitely going to be a tough choice as there’s so many interesting and diverse films entered into the competition. If you get a chance to watch these or any other ABC’s of Death 2 entries then feel free to comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts on which film YOU think is deserving of the 26th Director crown!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

“When Bella met Thor”- A Review of “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews
**WARNING: INCLUDES SPOILERS**
A new breed of Hollywood blockbusters has begun in the shape of the re-imaginings of fairy-tales, so move over vampires! This year so far has seen two very different approaches to the classic Grimm fairytale of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”; first there was the light-hearted “Mirror Mirror” (2012) starring Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen and then came the film that will be focused on in this review “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012); the main similarity between the two is the heavy marketing of the Queen character as the main attraction. “Snow White and the Huntsman” offers a darker approach to the classic fairytale, returning to its origins of Grimm rather than the family friendly image that “Snow White” mainly has in popular culture due to Disney incorporating a medieval style.
 

Charlize Theron gives a  phenomenal  performance as the evil Queen. Her presence is constantly unsettling with her stony stares and her temperamental nature, creating a sinister edge and constant tension throughout the film. The film does put an interesting spin on the character, paying reference to the legend of Mrs Bathory with the notion of her draining the life from the young in order to preserve herself. The visual effects which compliment her fantastic performance are outstanding, her transformation from beautiful young Queen to evil old hag as well as the scenes where she disguises herself as a flock of birds.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” is a pure Hollywood product which sets out to meet a certain structure and fills particular clichés. Firstly the casting, the producers of this film  placed Kristen Stewart in the lead role, she is well known for her  immensely popular role as Bella Swan in the “Twilight” franchise (2008-present) . The performance she gives is bland and expressionless as once more she is typecast into a role where she is constantly reliant on a man to save her! The arc they give her from the weak and helpless princess to a strong warrior Queen is therefore unconvincing by the film’s closure. It also created problems for the feminist angle the film was trying so hard to convey. Chris Hemsworth of “Avengers”  (2012) fame plays the Huntsman, a character who only plays a minor part in the original story, he does his job of setting Snow White free and the story moves on without him, however in this re-telling he is transformed into the romantic lead and main protector of the “beautiful princess”. Stewart and Hemsworth together have very little screen chemistry, resulting in a forced and tedious sub-plot for the film that drags it down, it removes the potential it has in terms of a strong story and performances complimenting the visuals. Hollywood have basically said “Let’s take two of the biggest stars of the moment from two of the biggest film franchises and just place them in a movie together and just go with it”, but that’s Hollywood and they know how they are going to market their films and what will pull in the box office figures! To a large degree the film does feel like a vehicle for these two stars.

It was clear that to an extent they were attempting to replicate “Twilight” by placing in a love triangle sub-plot between the Huntsman and William, Snow White’s childhood friend. A similar plot-line can also be found in “The Hunger Games” (2012) series which is again a huge Hollywood blockbuster at the moment. In the sequence where Snow White, the Huntsman and the Dwarves enter the Sanctuary, even though it is visually beautiful, it seemed in place to replicate the similar style of the beautiful world seen in “Avatar” (2009). Critics have also drawn comparisons with the “Narnia” films (2005-present). The need to add in popular cliché’s to a re-imagining of a well-known story seemed unneeded and there for the sake of being there as it attempted to live up to all the major blockbusters out there.

That said, its certainly not an awful film. The Cinematography is beautiful, the use of colours in the film are really profound such as the red blood dripping onto white snow. Its definitely appealing to look at and its clear that so much thought and detail has evidently gone into the mise-en-scene, costumes and the colouring. The forest sequence is eerie and haunting with the notion of trees coming to life! In terms of the performances the saving grace of the film comes in the shape of the Dwarves, who lighten the dark tone to a degree. The casting for the characters are fantastic including Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins and Brian Gleeson. Each of them showcase an individual personality and bounce well off each other in terms of humor and wit! They couldn’t have come into the film sooner! Seeing these actors in the shape of Dwarves again demonstrates how spectacular the effects are. The battle scenes are also epic and rank up the tension during the films final moments as they go all out with the CGI. There was also a clever and unexpected twist thrown in when Snow White inevitably takes a bite out of that poisonous apple!

Despite the disappointing areas of the film such as the story, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is definitely worth a watch as its a medieval tale of epic proportions. I will be curious to see “Jack the Giant Killer” (2012) and eventually “Maleficent” (2014) and everything else that emerges from the genre. As long as Hollywood can keep fairy-tales fresh then keep em’ coming!

Hayley Alice Roberts.