Archive for Steve Oram

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.

Abertoir 2014 Review: The Canal (2014)

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

In a sub-genre that’s been mostly dominated with jump scares and found footage, a truly spine-chilling ghost story has been hard to come by these past few years. Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal is a breath of fresh air, returning to the old school style of haunting films where less is more. The Irish independent production that deals with themes of family breakdown, paranoid horror and dark secrets manages to get it right. It’s the scariest film that screened during this year’s Abertoir line-up and a standout amongst the films that incorporated a serious tone.

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**Note** This poster does not do the film justice, its too generic and doesn’t capture the essence of what The Canal is.

 

The Canal centralizes on married film archivist and father David (Rupert Evans). After living peacefully in his nice house with his young family for the past five years, David’s world is turned upside down when his colleague Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) presents him with some unsettling film reel that reveals a murder took place in his house around 1902. To add to his woes, David is suspicious of his wife Alice’s (Hannah Hoekstra) behaviour. Whatever she’s hiding is the catalyst that sets off a series of horrendous events that alters David’s life forever. In this psychological drama, David must protect his adorable young son Billy (Callum Heath) and come to terms with his own personal demons. Is there a malevolent spirit lurking in David’s house? Or is it something even darker?

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It’s difficult not to reveal too much regarding the film’s plot as each surprise that unfolds on screen provides a jaw-dropping experience. The Canal is a slow burner, which works well as it takes its time to develop David as a strong and layered character and his relationships with those around him, his son, colleague, wife and the babysitter. As an audience we garner plenty of empathy for him and care about him as the protagonist so that when ominous and enigmatic events take place we’re on board with him for the entire time.

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Rupert Evans’s performance is striking. He portrays David with both likeability and vulnerability making his story especially compelling.  The relationship between him and his five year old son Billy comes across as naturalistic, enabling us to invest in them. Callum Heath is one of the sweetest child actors in any horror film, his delivery is believable and he’s perfectly cast as the innocent child unaware of the chaos surrounding him, allowing some truly heart-breaking moments.

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A highlight performance comes from Steve Oram (Sightseers) in the small role of police detective McNamara. Oram attended a funny and insightful Q&A at the festival explaining that the back to basics style of horror attracted him to being part of the film. His character is deadpan and highly suspicious acting as a foil for David.

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Steve Oram chats with Abertoir Festival Director Gaz Bailey about his involvement in The Canal.

Steve Oram chats with Abertoir Festival Director Gaz Bailey about his involvement in The Canal.

What works in The Canal’s favour is its genuinely creepy, the tension is constantly high and the frightening moments come in unexpectedly. As stated it doesn’t rely on loud noises and jump scares to generate fear in its audience, it remains suspenseful by gradually revealing the twists and turns to a satisfying effect. In some respects its reminiscent of the classic ghost story The Innocents (1961)  in the sense that it easily gets under the skin or an Irish version of  Sinsiter (2012) (as me and Caitlyn discussed in our Ghostface Girls Video, see below) but done slightly better. It’s atmospheric, beautifully shot, with intense lighting that echoes the giallo sub-genre. The old film reels used to signify David’s discovery of the previous horrors that occurred at his home look authentic adding to the macabre tone of the film.

Kavanagh has created a disturbing, memorable and traditional ghost story with plenty of twists to keep up interest. If you’re going to watch one haunting film this year make it The Canal, it is guaranteed to linger in the mind for a long time and make you sleep with the light on!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Celluloid Screams 2012: Day One Coverage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Robert Nevitt has once again put together a diverse and entertaining festival at the Showroom Cinema located in Sheffield. Accompanied by a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere, the standard of Horror that was selected to play at the festival was absolutely exceptional, we had plenty of zombies, blood, guts, gore, laughs, a ginger faced man, some cenobites and surgery plus much much more. In the coverage I have put together some vlogs as well as additional footage of Q&A’s. I hope you can enjoy and endure the horror to come!

**Note: Apologies for some of the video quality!**

A brief video summary from me!

Certified (2011) (UK Premiere)

Celluloid Screams opened up with this quirky little short which depicted a sense of paranoid horror and how effective the words from an “innocent” child can be as well as the naivety of adults. A bumbling postman encounters a frightmare of a first day when he enters the home of a young girl and her Aunt. While the Aunt is out of the room the girl begins to tell the horrifying tale of her family’s demise down the mines, however not all is quite as it seems. The short was a very light-hearted and a very enjoyable way to kick things off; it received lots of laughs from the audience. Certified also gave a nice little nod to 1950’s horror comics and with a reminiscence towards Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt.

Sightseers (2012) + Q&A with Director Ben Wheatley

Sightseers is a darkly humored, black comedy about a seemingly introverted woman named Tina (played by Alice Lowe) who escapes the clutches of her “invalid” mother to take a caravaning holiday with her new boyfriend Chris (Played by Steve Oram). Love is in the air as the couple set off into the picturesque Yorkshire countryside, however events soon take a dark turn when Chris’s neurotic behavior turns deadly!! Steve Oram and Alice Lowe played their roles superbly as the strange couple with very naturalistic performances and it is clear they had a lot of fun getting into their characters. The strength of the film comes from their acting as well as the hilarious comedy elements in the dialogue. The film displayed some interesting and unique cinematography and editing that creates an outstanding effect and really brings out its typically British style. As for the horror, its brutal and bloody but laugh out loud at the same time, there’s also an unexpected cameo from Seamus O’ Neill (Jim in INBRED) which was a welcome treat! “He’s a nice man” one of the characters remarks, which came off as very tongue in cheek! Sightseers truly captures the essence of what its like being in a new relationship, and depicts all the highs and lows with a goretastic horror metaphor in the background! There’s romance, sex, jealousy, murder and dog-napping! Sightseers has plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep the audience on edge, an infectious 80’s soundtrack and outstanding direction from Ben Wheatley. Perfect for fans of horror, Brit Flicks and romcoms!

Odokuro (2011) (UK Premiere)

Narrated by Gary Numan, Odokuro is a visually intriguing stop-motion animation which sees a skeleton of a rat-monkey come to life in a room full of cursed objects.  The short is a hybrid between notions of horror and sci-fi and is labelled as having a “Sci-Fi twist”. Its mesmerizing to watch and cleverly made with a delicious gothic tone to it. A definite highlight from the selection of shorts that screened this year.

NightBreed: The Cabal Cut (1990/2012) + Q&A with Restoration Director Russell Cherrington, and Actors Nick Vince and Simon Bamford

Finally gaining the opportunity to view NightBreed was a real treat. Its no secret that the project had a shaky time during it’s production where the initial release bared hardly any resemblance to the wonderful master of Horror Clive Barker’s original novel. Scenes had been removed by the film’s producers at the time twenty years ago as they allegedly wanted to market the film as a “slasher”. But now thanks to the amazing work of Russell Cherrington, NightBreed: The Cabal Cut has finally been unleashed onto the big screen so that genre fans can get to see the piece of film they deserve. NightBreed is a devastating and profound tale about prejudice and how one person is capable of destroying the lives of others. A horror metaphor is used once more to convey the subject matter and it incorporates some wonderful imagery, the make up on the mutants of  Midian is truly unforgettable.

The story focuses on a young man named Aaron Boone (Played by Craig Sheffer) who is haunted by nightmares of an underground city known as Midian where the monsters lurk and become accepted into a way of society. Boone takes the advice from his girlfriend Lori and attends meetings with the psychotherapist Dr Phillip K. Decker. Decker possesses some dark secrets and convinces Boone he is responsible for partaking in some horrendous murders. Boone runs into some of the breed and is subsequently killed by the police, however due to his encounter he is brought back and joins them in their underground world, now Lori is determined to find Boone again and begins to explore the dark wold of Midian for herself. Following viewing the Cabal Cut, it is almost impossible to imagine how the story would have transitioned without those vital scenes. The footage is very dark and difficult to make out in parts, although the team are working hard to alter this but they have seriously done so well with what they have achieved through reviving all the old footage from VHS format and bringing it in. Russell Cherrington and the crew have done a tremendous job in breathing a new life into the film and ensuring its seen how Clive Barker always intended. A future DVD and Blu-Ray release would be fantastic.

Day Two and Three coming to terrify you soon….!

Hayley Alice Roberts.