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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.

celluloid screams 2017

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

the endless

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

creep 2

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

MFA

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

68 Kill

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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Celluloid Screams 2016: Trash Fire Review

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Richard Bates Jr. (Excision, Suburban Gothic) is renowned for his quirky style and skill for creating detestable yet compelling characters, this directorial trait is still strongly prominent in his third feature film and the third to be screened at Celluloid Screams, Trash Fire.

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Owen (Adrian Grenier) and Isabel (Angela Trimbur) are a couple embroiled in a turbulent relationship, displaying mutual resentment and repulsion for one another. Close to breaking point, the couple unexpectedly face a life changing event that binds them together. After a horrific fire that burnt down his childhood home and resulted in the death of his parents, Owen is estranged from his remaining living relatives; his kooky religious freak Grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) and badly scarred sister Pearl (Annalynne McCord). With Isabel’s encouragement, the couple set off to make amends but little do they know the kind of weirdness that lies ahead for them. The real test of their relationship is set to begin.  But will the experience destroy the couple or bring them closer together?

trashfire

Trash Fire is Bates Jr.’s strongest film to date, it’s side-splittingly entertaining from beginning to end accompanied by a razor sharp script that doesn’t let up on it’s sarcastic humour. The pacing works well, we are gradually introduced to the protagonists Owen and Isabel, learning about their toxic relationship and how they reached that point. The second part of the film takes the characters out of the environment we were initially introduced to them in and places them in the strict religious confines of the grandmother’s home, shifting the tone and feel of the film in a different direction.

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What’s great about Trash Fire is it veers off into unexpected territory and by the end it’s a completely different film to the one that first begun. It remains a mean spirited dark comedy in tone however as it progresses there is a certain empathy attached to the main characters. Owen, as a character is layered with issues and comes across as obnoxious and deliberately unpleasant however once his back story is revealed it provides an inclination of why his character is so unapologetically mean. For a film laced with a brutal sense of humour the character development is spot on, keeping the audience entirely compelled.

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There’s some hilarious moments of comedic tension shared between Grenier and Matthew Gray Gubler who plays his straight laced brother in law Caleb. Gubler is one of the film’s most welcome highlights. All the performances are brilliantly acted portraying over the top characters. Angela Trimbur play Isabel as a woman at her wits end, it’s incredible how her character managed to survive a three year relationship with Owen. Fionnula Flanagan is quick witted and unapologetically horrid as the ghastly Grandmother. Annalynne McCord is ambiguous and empathetic as Pearl with a side of uncomfortable weirdness, it’s refreshing to see her in a different kind of role and this one is certainly memorable.

Similarly to Bates Jr’s previous films, Trash Fire still incorporates bizarre visual sequences used for a metaphorical purpose but not to the same extent as his other offerings. With the focus primarily on the core characters and dynamics, it doesn’t need to include as many stylish visual sequences like Excision. On some level it has an 80’s B-Movie style thriller feel to it.

One of the genre’s best dark horror comedies of the year, Trash Fire is surprising, unpredictable and ensures that what you see is what you get and more!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.