Archive for Mark Rathbone

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

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More on Ascension, the Premiere and Behind the Screams!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following on from my review of the film, I am now going to document the premiere that took place on Sunday, the 30th of June at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham. I am also going to discuss the reception Ascension received at the event as well as the screening of my own Making of Documentary titled Behind The Screams. Firstly I would just like to say how impressed I was with the venue, I’d have to describe the Electric as the comfiest cinema I’ve ever been in. At the back of the room, leather sofas were reserved for the main cast and crew which made it feel like you were in your own living room. The standard seats further down provided plenty of leg room. The entire room seemed refurbished and modernized. Despite it being a small room, it created a more intimate atmosphere as cast, crew and their families sat down to enjoy the days events.

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Photo by Dave Jeffrey

Director James Hart, Writer Dave Jeffrey and Producer/Editor Richard O’Connor began the premiere by introducing themselves and their roles, then informed the audience of the day’s line-up. We were treated to a screening of Venomous Little Man’s entry into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition for the Horror Channel, Six Feet Under. This sick and twisted short was the perfect way to set the audience up for the main feature as it demonstrated the type of material Venomous Little Man produce. It also showcased Mark Rathbone’s acting talent and strong on-screen presence, which is also seen later on in Ascension.  Following another brief introduction from James, Dave and Richard where they thanked all who had been involved in the project, it was now time to view what we were all there for Ascension.

Cast Q&A

Having been fortunate enough to view the film prior to the premiere, I was interested in hearing first time viewers reactions to it, particularly the cast. After the credits rolled, the film received a massive round of applause and all involved seemed impressed by the outcome. Dave and James got the cast up on stage to answer a few questions, the one I particularly remember was if they enjoyed using the prop guns during the shoot! They all emphasized how cold it was on location and how they battled the weather conditions. Exciting news about the company’s future productions were then announced. A raffle was later included and prizes were a signed copy of the poster and a copy of Alt-Zombie.

Following a short break, I was then asked to go on stage to say a few brief words about how I became involved in Ascension and introduce my first film the behind-the-scenes documentary Ascension: Behind The Screams. This was a particularly nerve-wracking experience as I had fought sound issues and several problems during the editing process, however the outcome was better than expected. The film contains the actor interviews available on this blog and my youtube channel as well as the filming of key scenes. I did focus a lot on the gory, zombie eating scene to demonstrate the FX side of things and the direction. There’s a lot of humor within the Making Of, the audience were surprised to see how muddy the location was and the sound did help to highlight the fierce wind that was present throughout the shoot.  Everybody also enjoyed the cameo from the softest guard dog ever on the second location, a lovely wolfhound. As a filmmaker, its natural to be critical of your own work so I am going to potentially revise certain scenes and cut parts for length reasons, some of the transitions seemed a bit rough even though they had been rectified during the editing process. However, on the whole I received some really nice comments from the guests which has filled me with confidence for the future. To see my film up on the big screen did bring a lot of emotions and on the whole I am proud how its turned out. Through being on the set I learned a lot from the crew which I will take on board when I hopefully make my own feature film.  I think the main objective with a Making Of Documentary is to capture the reality of how the film was made and provide a naturalistic feel for the viewers to get a sense of what it was like. Overall I feel I achieved that.

To conclude, I feel very privileged to have been part of Ascension as I have been able to do something I greatly enjoy and have made many new friends.I would particularly like to thank Derek Melling, Dave Jeffrey and James Hart for giving me the opportunity and Ross Hunt for all his help and support in creating the Making Of. I would definitely like to work with these guys again and wish them all the best with the future.

http://www.venomouslittleman.co.uk/

Hayley Alice Roberts.

After Apocalypse: A Review of Ascension (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS**

“The human race has to adapt, Ascend”- Joe

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Ascension (2013) is a British short horror film and the directorial debut of James Hart. The screenplay has been adapted from a short story written by Dave Jeffrey from the anthology Alt-Zombie. Filmed in Redditch, during the cold winter of 2013, Ascension tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic world where survivors are few and far between and puts forward strong ideas of community and a breakdown in modern society, echoing back to the Second World War, with everything on ration and people sticking together through hardship. The film opens with a series of news reel’s depicting the gradual stages of the apocalypse and the decline of humanity. With, fast-paced, slick cuts, these moments set the scene for what’s to come. It also must be noted that the opening is accompanied by a chilling score (composed by Liz Comley) that creates a melancholic tone, greatly adding to the film’s atmosphere.

We are then introduced to Ascension’s protagonists Joe (Derek Melling) and Annie (Jacky Fellows), two survivors who are determined to find others to bring back a sense of community spirit  (“The Blakewell Spirit”). In a time of crisis the characters still manage to maintain a sense of humor, which is seen throughout the film and is an example of the witty writing in Jeffrey’s script. Our protagonists are joined by Tom (Laurence Saunders) before setting off into the wilderness in the hope of finding others. The characters share a believable dynamic and its clear there is a strong bond and trust between them. On their search they come across brother and sister Alex (Debbie Nicholls), Carl (Sam Knight) and their leader Eddie (Mark Rathbone) who appears as the main antagonist. In a Western-style stand off the characters attempt to convince each other they can be trusted which keeps the audience on the edge-of-their-seats and allows for some intense and confrontational moments as well as ambiguity, nothing is clear cut in regards to who are the good guys and who are the bad? Without revealing anymore, the film concludes with a shocking and heart-wrenching twist that is sure to leave the audience satisfied.

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Ascension sets itself apart from other texts within the Zombie sub-genre in several ways. Its a very character-driven piece and develops each individual well, providing a lot of empathy for them. The actors are all brilliantly cast and put a lot of heart into the material. It gets the audience on a psychological level, questioning how we ourselves would react if in the same situation and allows an understanding of the motives involved. Another interesting aspect is the film isn’t overly gory and doesn’t feature many zombies which differentiates it in a major way, proving that horror can work well as a backdrop with high drama as the main focus. Isolation is a key theme and its represented well through the location. It could be said that Ascension is the coldest zombie film out there due to the weather conditions the cast and crew worked in! There is some stunning cinematography, particularly the aerial shots near the beginning. For a thirty minute film, Ascension manages to convey a lot but still leaves you wanting more which demonstrates that its done its job. To conclude, Ascension is an emotionally-charged, good humored horror story, with well written characters, strong actors, breathtaking cinematography and good direction. Venomous Little Man Productions should be proud of their efforts and hopefully have more wonderful work to come.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Ascension: The Interviews #3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Interview #3 is here! With just under a fortnight to go the apocalypse is coming in the form of the Ascension premiere. In this interview derived from my upcoming Behind-the-Screams featurette I speak with Mark Rathbone (Eddie in Ascension, Ron in Inbred) about his role and why he thinks Ascension stands out as a new addition in the Zombie sub-genre.

I have also received the fangtastic news that my Making Of documentary will be screened following Ascension in Birmingham’s Electric Cinema on June 30th.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Six Feet Under (666 Shortcuts to Hell)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here’s the latest project from Venomous Little Man productions, the guys behind Ascension. Six Feet Under has been entered into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition for the horror channel. It stars Mark Rathbone (Inbred, Ascension) as a hack, happy psychopath. Written by Dave Jeffrey and Directed by James Hart, Six Feet Under is well-crafted and is proof that horror can be effective and chilling even in a short piece. It leaves much to the imagination which intensifies the creepiness and demonstrates that torture scenes don’t have to be over-the-top and gratuitous. I really admire Venomous Little Man’s style of horror and I hope to see some more collaborations from these guys.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

 

ASCENSION Teaser Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Here is a sneak peak from the Ascension film, in a brand new teaser trailer. I am currently working on some behind-the-scenes footage for the piece, so watch this space over the next few months!!

Until then…

Hayley Alice Roberts.

After Zombies? The Ascension Film Project

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

I have had a busy weekend in Redditch providing coverage and filming some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage for up and coming zombie film Ascension. Back in early September 2012 I interviewed the film’s writer Dave Jeffrey and director James Hart on their expectations of the project, which can be found here: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/the-zombie-apocalypse-is-coming-an-interview-with-dave-jeffery-and-the-crew-of-ascension/

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Since the interview, they have heavily promoted the film with various teaser newsreel’s to gradually generate interest in the film, a link for their facebook page will be provided below in order to view these. I was privileged to be invited on set by lead actor Derek Melling (who plays Joe) to conduct interviews with the main cast and showcase what its really like to create a horror film. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working on Ascension through getting an insight into horror filmmaking and met some truly fantastic people from the industry. Despite weather conditions (heavy snow!) and a few mishaps (getting covered in mud and blood sticking to my hair!), the majority of filming went smoothly and I am pleased with the outcome of my footage. Later this year I will be editing it all together to create a making of/promo around the film’s release, which at the moment is top secret, however I may gradually upload the cast interviews so you can all find out a little bit more about the character-driven, horror piece that is Ascension.

I am grateful to Derek, Dave and James for the opportunity. Also, I’d like to thank Ross Hunt for helping me out with filming and getting some great photo’s of the shoot! Much appreciated.

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Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/project.ascension?ref=ts&fref=ts

Hayley Alice Roberts.