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Hayley’s Top 5 Feature Films of Celluloid Screams 2017

Posted in Horror Blog, Horror Festivals, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Celluloid Screams 2017 presented festival attendees with one of their strongest line-ups to date. With classic anniversary screenings of Suspiria (1977) and Hellreaiser (1987) and an Inside No. 9 showcase with both its creators, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith present, the ninth edition of the festival proved fantastic. As well as familiar films for fans to rediscover on the big screen, Celluloid Screams also programmed a diverse selection of feature films from all over the world. The common thread between them all was that most of them contained a tongue-in-cheek flair to them, allowing the audience to experience laughs and scares and an equal amount of tension.

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This list has sure been a tough one to compile as each film managed to bring its own identity to the table however these were the movies that struck a chord with me. So, without further ado, here are my top five feature films of Celluloid Screams 2017.

5. The Endless (2017)

  • Directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson
  • USA

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Celluloid Screams 2017 launched on a high note, which therefore set the tone for the remainder of the festival. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are staples of Celluloid having screened both their previous feature films, Resolution in 2012 and Spring in 2014, respectively. They have hit a hat-trick with their latest flick, The Endless. Moorhead and Benson not only write and direct but this time around they both star in the film. Their unique flair for filmmaking is present yet again as they stray away from convention bringing something surreal and intriguing to the table. In The Endless, Aaron and Justin play two brothers who happen to be former cult members. After ten years and undergoing deprogramming, the two are invited to revisit their old way of life when a mysterious videotape arrives on their doorstep. What follows is a mind-bending journey of intrigue that leads the viewer into unknown territory. Established fans will already know to expect the unexpected with their instantaneously captivating style of storytelling. The film looks beautiful which is aided by the picturesque cinematography, the open outdoors setting signifies the vastness of how the plot is essentially bigger than what is initially thought. Moorhead and Benson continue to grow within their craft, creating films that are not pigeonholed to one specific genre. The Endless is a mesmerizing film experience that is best going into without knowing too much. It will be exciting to see what these multi-talented filmmakers come up with next.

4. Creep 2 (2017)

  • Directed by Patrick Brice
  • USA

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Creep 2 is the highly anticipated sequel from director Patrick Brice. Mark Duplass makes a delicious return to his role as the batshit insane, serial killer that he made popular in the first one. This time around, he lures ambitious journalist, Sara (Desiree Akhavan) into his lair (home!). Disillusioned with his life as he approaches 40, he puts out an online ad for a videographer which draws in the disenfranchised young woman who is struggling to make a success of her obscure web series. Following an initial meeting with Aaron, the bizarre encounter provides her with enough scope for her next video. Feeling galvanized by the experience, will Sara bite off more than she can chew or will she hold her own against the unpredictable psychopath? Creep 2 is equally as superb as its predecessor, but manages to venture into even darker territory. It is nerve shredding from the outset while containing an unnerving sense of humour. Erratic and unpredictable just like its core antagonist; Creep 2 is a nail-biting, unique cinematic experience that works excellently among a festival audience. It is gasp-inducing madness and proves to be one of the most effective found footage entries within the genre right now. Between them, Brice and Duplass have created an exhilarating sequel which remains consistent to the original while challenging audience expectations which is highly ingenious to see.

3. M.F.A (2017)

  • Directed By Natalia Leite
  • USA

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M.F.A is certainly a revelation in light of the recent Hollywood sexual assault scandal. This film is both timely and imperative as it fearlessly tackles a subject that still faces a taboo outlook surrounding it. Introverted art student, Noelle begins to embrace college life when she is invited to a party by a pretentious yet charming classmate named Luke. The party takes a harrowing turn when Luke shockingly rapes Noelle and plays it down in the aftermath. Traumatized and violated, Noelle reports her ordeal to the appropriate channels to no avail. She then decides to take matters into her own hands, heading down a dark route of revenge which heartbreakingly is all she has left. M.F.A is astonishingly brave as it highlights the ignorance and hypocrisy surrounding reported rape and the many women who face suffering in silence. The approach the film takes is bold without being exploitative or highly controversial but strongly gets its message across. Francesca Eastwood gives the performance of the year in a transformative role with layers of character development and a realistic arc, from her vulnerable beginnings to the astounding journey she takes. M.F.A is a prime example of the dynamicity of the genre and how it can successfully display a very real but disturbing issue and glare a light on that. It is wholly frustrating but will hopefully spark a conversation that society absolutely needs to have. Uncompromising, confrontational and powerful in its execution, M.F.A needs to be seen and spoken about.

2. 68 Kill (2017)

  • Directed By Trent Haaga
  • USA

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Annalynne McCord stars as the baddest bitch of them all in this fast-paced, high octane, comedic thriller. Soaked in exploitation, 68 Kill delivers the “perfect midnight movie” and then some. Perfectly placed in the 12am slot on the first night of the festival, 68 Kill fought any festival jet lag away as its thrilling nature keeps the audience engrossed from start to finish. Featuring a slew of reprehensible characters that will kill, maim and mangle to get their hands on cold hard cash, 68 Kill ensures edge of the seat action until those end credits roll. The cast gel exceptionally well together, with Matthew Gray Gubler’s sweet-natured Chip finding himself in a bizarre, unexpected situation, torn between two crazed beauties with more outrageousness to come. A surprise performance is delivered from Sheila Vand, from the mid-way point as a ruthless, gothic store clerk. 68 Kill is a movie Tarantino could be proud of and thematically it has all the ingredients in place to homage his brand of filmmaking. Tasteless, indulgent, unapologetically trashy and completely in your face, 68 Kill is one of 2017’s and Celluloid Screams most exciting offerings.

1. Better Watch Out (2017)

  • Directed by Chris Peckover
  • USA/Australia 

Better Watch out

Christmas has come early with this fantastic, festive fright flick. Better Watch Out encompasses all the components of the killer Christmas movie while embodying its own unique capability. This is a home invasion like no other that supplies nerve-shredding suspense with darkly thought out humour. The plot centers on hormonally-charged twelve-year-old Luke (Levi Miller), a regular Suburban kid who anticipates an evening alone with his babysitter, Ashley (Olivia DeJonge). Having already established a comfortable rapport with each other, Luke’s chances of finally confessing his feelings don’t go quite to plan when they are targeted by an unknown assailant, subsequently becoming embroiled in a twisted cat and mouse game with shocking consequences. Better Watch Out incorporates delightful twists and turns that will supply shocks and surprises for its audience. It is advisable to enter this film totally blind to experience the punch it packs! The bright, festive aesthetic the film displays provides a welcome contrast to the more darker themes. It’s a crowd-pleaser from start to finish with exceptional performances from its young cast. Much like Andrew Muschetti’s IT (2017), kid-cast led horror films are proving to be a hit right now and this is no exception. If you enjoyed Netflix favourite, The Babysitter (2017) then you’re going to love, Better Watch Out.

Well, there we have it, my top five personal outstanding feature films of Celluloid Screams 2017. Comment below if you agree or disagree with my choices and let me know which films hit the right note with you at the sensational Sheffield festival.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

 

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Sights to Behold: Celluloid Screams 2017

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

On Friday the 20th October, the ninth edition of Sheffield Horror festival Celluloid Screams will commence, promising eager festival attendees that they have such sights to show us. The popular festival has one epic schedule planned featuring a range of classic horror, brand new releases and special events to keep bloodthirsty fans satisfied over the two and a half days.

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I have consecutively attended the festival since 2011 and I’m beyond excited to see what 2017 has in store. Alongside my local horror festival Abertoir, Celluloid Screams is an event that I look forward to each year as it delivers a brilliantly arranged programme that is accessible for fans of a range of sub-genres. The welcoming, community atmosphere also plays a key role in why this festival remains one of the highlights of my year.

This year, the festival programmers led by Robert Nevitt have excelled themselves by providing us with so many exceptional films to look forward to. The proceedings kick off with festival favorites Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s, cult-focused thriller, The Endless, followed by the eagerly anticipated British haunt-fest, Borley Rectory featuring a Q&A with the film’s director Ashley Thorpe. Other highlights to look forward to over the spooktacular weekend include closing film, Better Watch Out, a festive Christmas chiller, the trope-defying Tragedy Girls, the long awaited sequel, Creep 2 and of course the mysterious secret film.

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The main attraction however will be a special showcase of the popular BBC anthology series, Inside No. 9. Both creators and stars, the immensely talented Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith will be in attendance to hand pick their favorite episodes and indulge their fans in a Q&A following the screening. With the impending revival of their warped, cult comedy, The League of Gentleman returning to television screens in the foreseeable, this event will prove to be a must-see.

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Celluloid Screams will be screening not just one but two iconic classics on the big screen. We will feast our eyeballs on the stunning 4K restoration of Dario Argento’s exquisite masterpiece, Suspiria (1977) as well as a special 30th anniversary screening of Clive Barker’s incredible, Hellraiser (1987) with actor Nicholas Vince (famed for playing the role of the Chatterer) and special effects supervisor, Geoff Portass in attendance, partaking in a Q&A session following the film.

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With an array of films from all over the world, innovative short film screenings and a euro-horror celebrated art exhibition, it is fair to say that we are in for one hell of a weekend!

Keep up to date via my Facebook page, Hayley’s Horror Reviews and twitter account @WelshDemoness throughout the festival for plenty of updates.

http://celluloidscreams.co.uk/

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.  

Top 5 Celluloid Screams Moments (So Far!)

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

September 10th marks an exciting date for horror fans as passes for Sheffield’s Horror Festival Celluloid Screams are set to go on sale. Not only that, Rob Nevitt and his team will announce the line-up of what’s in store for 2015!

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This will be my fifth year attending Celluloid, which takes place at The Showroom Cinema. Not only does the festival put together a phenomenal programme each year with an eclectic selection of films that define the genre in different ways; and brings in a number of special guests that have made an impact on the genre as a whole. Through the festival I’ve established some great friendships and made connections with genre fans and filmmakers alike.

So as we wait to uncover the mystery of what shocks and scares we will be encountering on October 23rd-25th, here’s a list of my top 5 moments that the Sheffield Festival has offered up so far.

  1. Inbred (2011)

Inbred was the first film that I ever saw at Celluloid Screams and it ended up becoming one of my favorite horror films of all time. Certainly a cult classic in the making, Inbred was accompanied with a Q&A from a number of cast members including Seamus O’Neill, Dominic Brunt and Jo Hartley. Thanks to Celluloid and the discovery of Inbred I then went on to work with some of the cast members on a short zombie film called Ascension and led a Q&A with director Alex Chandon at my local horror festival Aberoir.

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Review & Q&A Videos of Inbred.

Alex Chandon Q&A Videos

2. Sping & Resolution (Aaron and Justin Q&A’s). (2012 & 2014)

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have been two of Celluloid’s most memorable special guests. Thanks to the festival I was introduced to two of their groundbreaking feature films that takes horror in a whole different direction, Resolution in 2012 and Spring in 2014. On both appearances the directorial duo have given some quirky, engaging and entertaining Q&A’s and always take their time to talk to their fans during the festival.

Resolution Review.

Spring Review.

3. Night Breed: The Cabal Cut (2012)

Since I was a young horror fan, Clive Barker’s NightBreed was always a film I desperately wanted to see. Packed with unusual imagery, the tale of creatures living underground in a whole undiscovered world from our own was something that greatly appealed. I’m glad my first experience of Night Breed was on the big screen with the restoration making it the film that Clive Barker had always intended rather than the slasher-style version the studios cut it down to on its original release. Switching between the grainy unused footage and the polished existing footage was an interesting cinematic experience. Through Celluloid and Night Breed I met the lovely Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford (also of Hellraiser fame), Hugh Ross and Russell Cherrington, the restoration director and still keep up to date with all their upcoming projects.

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NightBreed Review & Q&A Videos.

4. The Editor and Astron 6! (2014)

Again, if it wasn’t for Celluloid I never would have discovered the Canadian Collective that is Astron-6. Last year’s festival was literally an Astron-6  takeover as we were treated to a screening of The Editor, a bizarre and hilarious homage to the giallo sub-genre as well as a showcase of their exceptionally cool short films, Cool Guys, Bio-Cop and Breaking Santa being personal highlights! Adam Brooks, Connor Sweeney and Matthew Kennedy were special guests and gave us an insight into their weird and wonderful career so far.

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Short Review of The Editor

5. Der Fan (2013)

Without Celluloid Screams I would never have discovered this little gem. Der Fan is an obscure 80s German film that prior to the screening, Caitlyn and I thought it was going to be a recent film! Der Fan is one of those films where you won’t believe what you’re watching! It begins innocently enough as badly-dubbed exploitation film then it turns into completely something else! Der Fan has to be remembered for the longest sex scene in horror cinema history! We still hold out hope that Der Fan with its timeless theme of obsessive fandom would be ideal for the remake treatment!

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Celluloid Screams Review of Der Fan.

Women in Horror Month: Der Fan.

So that’s it for now, my highlights of the festival so far! So fellow Celluloid Screamers, what have been your favorite moments from over the years? Comment, facebook or tweet to @HayleyR1989 with #CelluloidScreamsMoments.

Bring on 2015!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Hayley’s Top 10 Genre Films of 2014.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals, Love Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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It’s that time of year again to reflect on which films struck a chord and made a lasting impression. For me the genre has continued to impress throughout 2014 offering up a variety of different contenders to select from. There’s been psychological scares and strange shocks making 2014 a real interesting year for horror. The films this year have dared to be more experimental taking our beloved genre in whole new directions and there have been some impressive performances all round. You may notice that there’s been a bit of a Australian and Canadian invasion this year as both countries have taken the genre by storm. The choices on this list will evidently be subjective so please comment if you agree or disagree with my picks. Without further ado, here is my highly recommended horror of 2014:

 10. The ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

Directed By Various

Country: USA, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Japan.

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The ABC’s of Death 2 surprisingly defied expectations, greatly improving on the 2013 original anthology. With a clearer direction this time around, the chosen 26 directors each created compelling and strong segments that went from being creative to grotesque to darkly humoured. The ABC’s of Death 2 is guaranteed to have something to please horror fans. Stand out segments include Julian Barratt’s comical B is for Badger, Larry Fesenden’s Halloween-esque N is for Nexus, Juan Martinez draw-dropping S is for Split and Jerome Stable’s brutal V is for Vacation. The ABC’s of Death 2 is one of the strongest anthology films of recent years.

Read my full review here. 

9. Stage Fright (2014)

Directed By Jerome Stable.

Country: Canada

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Stage Fright cleverly combines the slasher film with the musical movie in this twisted homage that screams Andrew Lloyd Webber meets Friday the 13th. After the brutal death of her Broadway star mother ten years ago, Camilla Swanson auditions for the role she made famous in the revival of the summer camp production of The Haunting of the Opera. Whether the curtain will rise on opening night is another matter as a masked maniac takes to the blade bumping off the cheerfully camp cast and crew one by one. Stage Fright has the makings of a cult musical with its genre hybridity and its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. Allie MacDonald gives a star performance alongside Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver. There’s some catchy and well crafted musical numbers from a range of genres as well as an Iron Maiden-esque killer! Stage Fright is a lot of fun while incorporating a dark tone and supplying plenty of gore!

Read my full review here.

8. Perfect Sisters (2014)

Directed By Stanley M. Brooks

Country: Canada

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Abigail Breslin gives the performance of the year in Stanley M. Brooks’s true crime thriller surrounding teenage sisters who callously murdered their alcoholic, deadbeat mother in the bathtub in 2003. Based on the case known as ‘The murder of Linda Anderesen’Perfect Sisters draws the audience into a dark and depressing place that carefully depicts how two young girls are driven to murder and their downward spiral in the aftermath. Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley are two actresses to keep an eye out for as they deliver powerhouse performances and depict a convincing sisterly bond when playing the notorious Andersen sisters. Perfect Sisters provides an insight into the early days of the internet and the dark side of being able to find anything online. Exceedingly grim in tone and utterly compelling, Perfect Sisters will leave you captivated until the devastating end.

Read my full review here.

7. Pieces of Talent (2014)

Directed By Joe Shauffer

Country: USA

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Pieces of Talent came as one of the most exceptional genre indie flicks of the year. In concept it’s something us hardened horror fans have seen all before but it needs to be commended for how it takes a traditional psycho killer storyline and does something completely experimental with it which works especially well. Pieces of Talent doesn’t hold back on the brutality as it tells the tale of an aspiring actress named Charlotte played by Kristi Ray who’s down on her luck. Stuck in a dead end job with far greater dreams, things appear to turn around for her when she develops a wonderful friendship with amateur filmmaker David (played by Writer David Long). David is one deranged director who offers Charlotte an opportunity to star in his latest independent film. David expects his actors to take method acting to a whole other level leaving Charlotte with more than she ever bargained for. Horrific and arty Pieces of Talent is one unusual meta film that deserves to be seen by everyone who likes their horror brutal and bloody made by filmmakers who are willing to take risks, offering up something much more diverse.

You can now see the movie for free on the official website: http://piecesoftalent.com/amissingpiece/

Read my full review from Love Horror.

6. Tusk (2014)

Directed By Kevin Smith

Country: USA. 

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Tusk is a movie that’s difficult to forget once viewed. It creates an unexplainable strange feeling that leaves a lasting impression. A podcast host named Wallace (played by Justin Long) visits Canada to interview the latest internet sensation the Kill Bill Kid. Upon his arrival he finds himself at the funeral of his interview opportunity, but little does he know something far more sinister and extraordinary awaits him. Answering an ambiguous letter he spots at a convenience store, Wallace embarks on a journey that leads him to an isolated mansion inhabited by the elderly Howard Howe (Michael Parks). After being drugged, the maniacal Howe plans to perform some amateur surgery on Wallace in order to transform him into a Walrus! Tusk is probably one of the more bizarre films seen this year particularly from a big name director mostly known for his successful comedies. Tusk combines dark humour with twisted set pieces and a surprising emotional impact creating a disturbing cinematic experience where you won’t know whether to laugh or be horrified.

Read my full review here.

5. The Canal

Directed By Ivan Kavanagh 

Country: Ireland

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Forget mainstream haunting films such as Insidious or The Conjuring; look no further than this Irish independent chiller. The Canal delivers a classic old school ghost story that creeps under the skin. Thought-provoking and incredibly terrifying The Canal depicts the harrowing ordeal of a single father following the mysterious murder of his adulterous wife. Traumatized film archivist David played powerfully by Rupert Evans, keeps the audience with him for the entire time as he comes to terms with all consuming grief while suspecting that he’s being haunted by the former sinister inhabitants in his house. There’s a fantastic supporting role from Steve Oram as the suspicious police detective and Callum Heath who plays David’s young son Billy is the most adorable child actor in any horror film. The relationship between father and son and naturalistic chemistry guarantees we become invested as the film plays out. The Canal keeps up intrigue making the plot twists even more gut-wrenching as they unfold. Ivan Kavanagh achieves a great deal on a low budget that it’s hard to believe the film wasn’t made with a lot more money than it was. The Canal is an unforgettable atmospheric piece.

Read my full review here.

4. Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2013)

Directed By Stuart Simpson

Country: Australia

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There’s something about ice cream and horror that fits together nicely from the Cornetto trilogy to 2011’s Some Guy Who Kills People, and this Australian offering is no exception. Stuart Simpson’s compelling, unconventional feature is a strong character study of an introverted ice cream van driver who develops an intense and unhealthy obsession with a cheesy Australian soap actress. Warren Thompson, played by the phenomenal Glenn Maynard is a man on the edge. He faces daily abuse from the local thug and struggles to come to terms with the accidental death of his pet cat.  His only solace comes in the form of soap opera Round the Block which he watches religiously but how long will it take before poor Warren snaps?! Maynard whole heartedly carries the film in a heartbreaking and unforgettable performance. Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla provides an insight into the real horror of humanity and blurs the lines between reality and fantasy coming in as one of the year’s most captivating films.

Read my full review here.

3. The Babadook

Directed By Jennifer Kent

Country: Australia

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The Babadook is arguably the most hyped up film of 2014 and it absolutely deserves the praise it receives. It isn’t quite what it seems which is completely why everybody can’t stop talking about it. Its title of ‘Scariest Movie of the Year’ is absolutely justified as while initially it may not have a significant impact, its after viewing when you sit and think about it, it crawls under the skin and infiltrates the darkest corner of your mind. It’s an effective psychological horror film that keeps up a sense of dread as it focuses on a widowed single mother unable to cope with the premature death of her husband and struggling to raise her increasingly difficult young son born on the night of the fateful accident that claimed her husband’s life. One evening Amelia (played by the outstanding Essie Davis) reads an ambiguous bedtime story to son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) called Mister Babadook. The book’s origins are unknown but what follows is a series of nightmare fuel as a dark fantasy turns into reality…or does it? Cleverly The Babadook allows for interpretation as it acts as a metaphor for mental illness and bereavement. Essie Davis delivers one of the best performances witnessed all year while young Noah Wiseman proves to be a dynamic young actor as troubled Samuel. Beyond disturbing, The Babadook is a must-see for 2014. Jennifer Kent’s feature debut is no doubt a future classic and really breaks the barriers in horror cinema for female filmmakers to come.

Keep telling yourself: There’s no such thing as The Babadook…dook…dook!

Read my full review here.

2. The Editor

Directed By Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy

Country: Canada

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The Editor was one of the most popular films that toured the festival circuit this year. The latest film from Canadian film-collective Astron-6, makers of crazy, 80’s action throwback Manborg is an affectionate homage to the Italian giallo sub-genre. The Editor doesn’t require its audience to have an extensive knowledge of giallo in order to get something out of it as it maintains to be downright entertaining throughout. Its hands down this year’s most visually stylish film with its deep, intense lighting and perfectly framed shots of classic giallo iconography. The Editor tells the tale of famed editor Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) who becomes embroiled in a number of violent murders. What follows is a series of crazy events that’ll blow your mind! Its an appreciation of an era of horror that reigned from the 1960’s-1980’s and goes all out to capture the tone of those types of films particularly with its Goblin inspired soundtrack. Along the way we meet an aray of colourful characters performed outstandingly by the likes of Paz de la Huerta, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Laurence R. Harvey, Udo Kier and Tristan Risk. The Editor isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and has fun with what it does, it’s rip-roaringly funny with its intentional dubbing and hilarious one liners. Astron-6 share a unique sense of humour and there is no one out there quite like them. The Editor is one film I could most certainly watch over and over again, preferably joined by a glass of Italian red to fully get into the spirit!

1. Spring (2014)

Directed By Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson

Country: USA

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Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s second feature, Spring proves how impressive this directorial duo have become. Following the success of 2012’s Resolution, Moorhead and Benson continue to explore in-depth human relationships in this romantic monster movie that incorporates its own mythology. When Evan tragically loses his mother to cancer he makes a life altering decision and travels to Italy for some much needed soul searching. However he gets more than he bargained for when he is captivated by a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Louise. The two embark on a passionate relationship that at the same time enthrals and frightens them both. Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker have an undeniable on-screen chemistry as their characters experience the mysterious early stages of a new relationship. What’s wonderful about Spring is that it takes its time to develop its two leading characters allowing us to get invested in them. It’s never clear cut which direction the film will take which keeps us mesmerized and unable to take our eyes off the screen, a credit to Benson’s screenplay. Moorhead’s cinematography is breath-taking and really makes use of the spectacular locations. These two are some of the most interesting filmmakers of recent years as they don’t play by the rules and create something totally unique, placing their individual mark on the genre. They do something different and do it exceptionally well. Spring is my top pick of 2014 as it’s the most well written, thought-provoking and beautiful film that’s emerged from the genre this year.

Read my full review here.

Honourable Mentions: Housebound (2014), New Zealand, What We Do In The Shadows (2014), New Zealand, The Sacrament (2013), USA and The Guest (2014), USA. 

Head over here for podcasts and articles from my collaborative project Ghostface Girls and check out our joint top 5 genre films of the year video:

Thank you for reading. I’d like to wish my fangtastic readers a spooktacular Christmas and New Year. Let’s hope 2015 has such sights to show us after a phenomenal 2014!

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.

 

✮✮✮✮✮

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Celluloid Screams 2012: Day Three Coverage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Day Three proved to be the most spook-tastic day at Celluloid Screams with strong contenders in both genre features and shorts. Unfortunately Celluloid were unable to screen the UK premiere of Memory of the Dead due to a technical difficulty which could not have been rectified at the time. I missed Entity also due to taking a break, but I really hope I can view it soon as I’ve heard very good things. Sunday had so much to offer in terms of films and guests and was full of surprises!

Leyenda (2011) (UK Premiere) (Short)

This short from Spain plays out as a warped post-modern fairytale, reminiscent of the style and tone of the Brothers Grimm. A ten-year-old girl named Claudia reads her fairytale about a “big bad wolf” type creature much to her mother’s dismay on a car journey. When the family make a stop at the gas station, a mysterious woman appears and creates carnage and bloodshed. Leyenda is dark and brutal and holds no barriers, its a terrifying watch and requires a strong stomach, however the violence is done very well and leaves the heart racing.

Before Dawn (2012) + Q&A with Director/Actor Dominic Brunt and Producer/Actress Joanne Mitchell

With their marriage on the rocks Alex (Played by Dominic Brunt) and Meg (Played by Joanne Mitchell) retreat to the Yorkshire countryside in an attempt to fix their troubled relationship, but little do they know a zombie epidemic has spread across the area. As they attempt to fix their problems in a tense atmosphere, Meg soon falls victim to the virus after being attacked and bitten by a zombie, now Alex must do all he can and figure out what lengths he will go to in order to save his wife, will they be able to salvage what they have before its too late? Before Dawn incorporates stunning cinematography of the Yorkshire landscapes, and a sense of gritty British drama as it hybrids a social realist style with edge-of-the-seat, gory horror. The film is most definitely a refreshing take on the Zombie sub-genre. Joanne Mitchell proves that there are more avenues available to go down as a writer when it comes to the zombie concept rather than churning out a repetitive formula that’s been done over and over again. Along with Dominic Brunt’s direction, they really pull it off and the result is a relate-able story with identifiable characters.

Its every day life with a horror metaphor as a backdrop, Meg is very career driven while Alex is out of a job, the social and economical frustrations that affect many relationships in today’s society is therefore played out. Brunt and Mitchell ensure that the audience gains a sense of understanding and empathy with Alex and Meg and are compelled into their story. The whole scenario feels very naturalistic due to Dominic and Joanne’s existing chemistry and a lot of authenticity is brought into their performances. Nicky Evans is brilliant in a small role, his character Stephen’s scenes with Alex are great to watch with the right balance of humor and intensity. Apart from the performances, the FX used were outstanding and are some of the most detailed zombie make-up effects that have been featured in a recent horror film, Meg is barely recognizable when she turns. The FX team have achieved special effects of an impressive standard. Before Dawn is a must see and holds a wider appeal even beyond only genre fans. If you enjoy Horror, British realism or even Emmerdale and Shameless then this is the film for you!

Resolution (2012) (UK Premiere) + Q&A with Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

An unexpected and unconventional entry into the Horror circuit, Resolution is psychologically creepy while at the same time has an endearing commentary on what it truly means to be friends and what we do for those we care about. After seeing directors Aaron and Justin’s dynamic during their introduction and Q&A it is clear where the heart of this story really comes from, not only that but they are hilariously funny guys and stole the show at this year’s festival! Their collaboration has resulted in a genuinely interesting, heart-warming and sinister film. Resolution begins when Michael (played by peter Cilella) is sent a video of his best friend Chris (played by Vinny Curran) passed out in an abandoned cabin high on drugs, he then makes the decision to intervene. Chris is apathetic about the situation and has accepted that he is nothing more than a junkie, Michael handcuffs him to a pipe and forces him to go cold turkey in an attempt to help his friend sort his life out. The tension between the two friends is played out well with very sincere performances from the lead actors. Michael soon realizes that Chris never sent the video and from then on the two find themselves caught up in a series of odd events as they try to investigate who or what is manipulating them. Resolution is cleverly written, it takes genre fans out of expected cliches and does something different, the idea of the unknown and the mystery surrounding the events that unfold for Michael and Chris gives out an unsettling feeling for the viewer but keeps the audience gripped throughout. With likeable characters and a strong narrative Resolution shines as a genre piece, however there are so many layers to it than first imagined.

Him Indoors (2012) (Short)

An agoraphobic serial killer on the brink of eviction falls into disastrous consequences when his nosy neighbor/potential date unexpectedly visits! This is one of the funniest, comedy/horror shorts that’s emerged recently. The humor is laugh out loud funny and the dynamic between Reece Shearamith and The Woman’s Pollyanna McIntosh is just brilliant. Gregory Brewster is a modern day, bumbling version of Norman Bates, notions from Hitchcock’s Psycho are loosely referenced as well as Rear Window in terms of how no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. It has a bit of a kitchen sink feel to it as well however it exaggerates an every day occurrence and uses it to its advantage. Him Indoors is without a doubt a highlight!

Excision (2012)

Take Tod Solondz and mix in some Lucky McGee with a hint of Ginger Snaps and the result is Excision! Visually, Excision is intriguing and mesmerizing to look at with its disturbing fantasy sequences. Its a twisted coming-of-age tale with some truly squeamish moments, Excision depicts the dark side of suburbia and how appearances can be deceiving. Pauline (played by Annalynne McCord) is a severely cynical and socially awkward teenager with a morbid and eventually dangerous obsession for surgery, she lives with her controlling mother (Played by Traci Lords), reserved father (Played by Roger Bart) and her long-suffering sister Grace (played by Ariel Winter) who has cystic fibrosis. Her family fail to understand her and the film portrays a breakdown in family communication as Pauline struggles to make sense of the world around her.  She goes as far as convincing herself that she can perform a surgical procedure to “cure” Grace resulting in horrific and devastating consequences. There are some wonderful cameos from the likes of John Waters and Malcolm McDowell which adds to its promising cult feel. Its a fairly satisfying film that pays off well, leaving the audience unsettled. Annalynne McCord is mostly known for her part in TV’s 90210, an American teenage-based drama, therefore the fact she plunged into this unconventional role as a repulsive and disturbed teenager is an interesting move. She proves herself as an exceptional young actress, and makes the character difficult to achieve empathy with for the majority of the film. Even if the main character is unlikeable, her psychological state keeps the audience drawn in and questions whether she will redeem herself by the film’s end. Excision is beautifully shot and edited and was the perfect way to close Celluloid Screams 2012.

And now for the fun…Short Film and Feature Winners + Closing Ceremony…I also encountered some INBREDS!

Final Thoughts (and a summary of my festival highlights):

Hayley Alice Roberts