Full Body Character Posters Revealed For DARK SHADOWS

After releasing a series of terribly ugly close-up portraits, Warner Bros. Pictures have now revealed another series of posters featuring full body images of the characters. Each has a separate theme and color scheme to suit the different key characters, but they don't look very appealing to me in fact I think they just look cheap and inconsistent. But never mind what I think about them, you can check them all out yourself below.

Synopsis: “In the year 1752 Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England, to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass, and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet — or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor are Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter, Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”



Directed by: Davide Melini
Starring: Carlos Bahos, Natasha Machuca, Leocricia Sabán

Although Davide Melini's THE PUZZLE was a great little short, this more recent offering is an improvement in just about every way with a bigger budget, better production values and a longer running time than its predecessor.

THE SWEET HAND OF THE WHITE ROSE begins with Mark (Bahos) who has just had a fight with his girlfriend Mary (Sabán) and is now drinking and smoking at a nightclub. In walks Mary to confront him but Mark ignores her and leaves. Mark's narrative explains the fight with his girlfriend and the fact that the road he is now currently driving down is a familiar one. In fact he is so confident with his familiarity of the winding road that he picks up his phone, a decision which will haunt him for the rest of his life. We are then introduced to a young girl (Machuca) credited only as White Rose and are shown how her path crosses fatefully and fatally with Mark's.

Right from the beginning it is obvious that this film is a noticeable improvement over THE PUZZLE especially in regards to the budget and the cinematography both in style and quality. A similarity with the former film however is the fact that it has very few spoken lines, with most of the story told through narration. Usually I'm not a big fan of narration but I felt that in this case it actually did a fine job of moving the story along. The acting is great too with all characters playing their parts perfectly, and the atmosphere was perfect.

A couple of very small criticisms would have to be the music for one, which I thought didn't entirely suit a few scenes. The second criticism I have is to do with the English dubbing however that is probably just personal preference, I have always preferred subtitles over dubbing. But these minor problems didn't bug me for long and didn't detract from the overall viewing experience. 
To summarize, THE SWEET HAND OF THE WHITE ROSE is a great looking and stylish film from Melini. It is an improvement over THE PUZZLE and not only is it an enjoyable film but it also holds a special message. Well worth checking out if you have a spare 15 minutes.

To check out a whole bunch of goodies including posters, stills, movies, interviews and reviews of Melini's work you can head here.

THE PUZZLE (2008) Short Film Review

Directed by: Davide Melini
Starring: Cachito Noguera, Alessandro Fornari

Recently I was contacted by director Davide Melini who had a couple of short films for me to review. Following this review for THE PUZZLE I will also be posting a review for another or Melini's films titled THE SWEET HAND OF THE WHITE ROSE. 

As short films go THE PUZZLE is very short indeed, clocking in at just under 5 minutes including the opening and closing credits. It begins with a woman (Noguera) receiving a phone call from her son (Fornari) and it is soon obvious that they don't have such a great relationship. Apparently he is asking for money but she refuses, telling him that he always spends her money on stupid things. After slamming down the phone she decides to spend the rest of the evening relaxing and passing the time with a puzzle. But as the pieces fall into place an uneasy feeling creeps in and it's obvious that something is not quite right.

This is easily the shortest short film I have seen so far, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. While a lot of shorts run for 15 or 20 minutes or more, a lot of them feel a little too padded. THE PUZZLE however overcomes this problem by stripping out anything unnecessary and just getting straight to the point before finally finishing off with a bang.
Though the synopsis may not be very deep, this short shows that writer/director Melini knows how to handle a camera and is able to hold your attention for as long as need be. 
As for the acting there is not really much to speak of, but both actors do a good job of what is required of them. Noguera only has a couple of short lines at the beginning which she delivers competently while the rest of the time she spends doing mundane things like piecing together the puzzle or boiling a pot of water.

The only real criticism I have is that THE PUZZLE may have benefited more from a slightly darker presentation as I felt it was a little too bright. Other than that though it was a great, bare-bones film with a creepy and somewhat ambiguous aspect.

To check out a whole bunch of goodies including posters, stills, movies, interviews and reviews of Melini's work you can head here.


? (QUESTION MARK) (2012) Review

Directed by: Yash Dave, Allison Patel
Starring: Yaman Chatwal, Varun Thakur, Manvi Gagru, Sonam Mukherjee

Another found footage horror film? I have to say that I am actually beginning to get as tired of them as I have become of zombie movies. On the other hand though this is a found footage horror film from India, and as I've never ever seen an Indian horror movie in my life I thought I'd give this one the benefit of the doubt and see what kind of fresh ideas it can bring to the table. I was also intrigued by the enigmatic title which is simply the question mark symbol.

The plot is extremely simple and generic. Basically a group of students arranged a trip to an isolated cabin in the mountains where they planned to make a film as part of a college project. After they arrived some crazy shit started to happen for no apparent reason and the only evidence recovered was this footage found on a video camera. That's really all there is to it.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to see what fresh ideas the filmmakers could bring to the table. The answer to that is absolutely nothing. ? is pretty much a mashup of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY along with a whole array of other found footage films. It doesn't have an original bone in its body. There is (of course) plenty of shaky camera work and plenty of night vision footage, furniture being moved, people being dragged off by some unseen force and lots of screaming, yelling and crying.
There is no explanation as to why all of this is happening. Sometimes the no explanation angle works in horror movies, but not here. Is the cabin haunted? If so, why? Was it built on an ancient Indian burial ground?
There are so many unanswered questions. Maybe that's why they decided to title the film ?

To make things worse, almost every cliche imaginable is crammed in here. A long drive to an isolated cabin in the woods, ghost stories over a campfire, young people getting drunk, people crying with their face right up in the camera lens, I could go on. And of course the whole movie is crafted in a way to try and convince the audience that the footage is real. There are no credits at the end, the movie just ends abruptly and instead of "Directed by..." we get a lame "Footage compiled by..." Does that kind of crap actually work anymore? Do the filmmakers actually think that their audience could be that stupid?

This movie has almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In fact the only positive thing I can say is that the acting was decent and for the most part realistic. But that is nowhere near enough to make up for everything else which sucked. I feel extremely grateful that I caught the Youtube premiere of ? so I didn't waste any of my money on it.


DARK SHADOWS Character Posters Revealed

Well I don't know about you but I was severely disappointed with the trailer for DARK SHADOWS and now I'm not even sure if I'm going to bother watching the movie at all. Nevertheless that's just my opinion and I know that there are a lot of people who loved the trailer. So for all of you out there who are looking forward to the movie, here is another treat. A total of 9 very ugly colorful character posters have recently been released prior to film's release in May. Check them out below.
(And don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them)



FUCK YES! I haven't been this excited to see a movie for a very long time. I know a lot of people feel the same way so I'll stop writing now and just let you sit back and enjoy this amazing trailer.

Synopsis: Ridley Scott, director of 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner,' returns to the genre he helped define. With 'Prometheus' he creates a groundbreaking mythology in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

PROMETHEUS hits theatres June 8th 2012.


CHERNOBYL DIARIES Official Trailer & Poster

I mentioned this a little while back in another post but there wasn't really too much information available. Now thanks to Apple you can take a look at the first official trailer, poster and also a more detailed synopsis for CHERNOBYL DIARIES which is directed by Brad Parker and written by Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke.

Synopsis“Chernobyl Diaries” is an original story from Oren Peli, who first terrified audiences with his groundbreaking thriller, “Paranormal Activity.” The film follows a group of six young tourists who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an “extreme tour” guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone.” 

CHERNOBYL DIARIES hits theaters May 25th 2012.
For more info head to the official site.

Stephen King's THE REAPER'S IMAGE Revealed

I love a good horror anthology, especially where Stephen King is involved. I think CREEPSHOW will forever be one of my all time favorites, and CAT'S EYE wasn't too bad either. So I'm pretty fucking excited now that now (thanks to Dread Central) we have some solid details involving the upcoming anthology made up of short stories by Stephen King and directed by Mark Pavia. The anthology will be titled STEPHEN KING'S THE REAPER'S IMAGE after one of his earliest (and best) short stories. The following short stories will make up the anthology:

The Reaper’s Image - This story was first published in Startling Mystery Stories in 1969 and collected in Skeleton Crew in 1985. The story is about an antique mirror haunted by the visage of the Grim Reaper, who appears to those who gaze into it. This was King’s second professional sale and commercially published story.
Mile 81 - A novella by Stephen King, released exclusively as an e-book on September 1, 2011. With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, Mile 81 is the chilling story of an insatiable car and a heroic kid whose worlds collide at an abandoned rest stop on the Maine Turnpike.
N. - The story of a psychiatrist who falls victim to the same deadly obsession as his patient — an obsession that just might save the world! N. was published in King’s collection Just After Sunset in 2008. In March 2010 Marvel Comics published the first issue of a comic book adaptation of N., a four-issue limited series.
The Monkey - A short story first published in Gallery magazine in 1980 in the form of a small removable booklet. It was significantly revised and published in King’s collection Skeleton Crew in 1985. The story centers on a cymbal-banging monkey toy that is possessed by an evil spirit. Every time the monkey claps its little cymbals together, a nearby living thing dies. The monkey is found in a family’s attic in an old toy chest by two young brothers, unknowing that their father had been tormented by the monkey years ago, when it worked its lethal enchantment on his family and friends.

DARK SHADOWS Official Trailer & Poster

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this for a while now, and I must admit I was one of those people. But after watching the trailer for DARK SHADOWS I have to say that I don't really like what I'm seeing so far. But I know how misleading trailers can be so I'm willing to reserve my judgement until I see the actual movie. Anyway, you can check it out for yourself along with the official poster below.

Synopsis: “In the year 1752 Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England, to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass, and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet — or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor are Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter, Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”


DARK SHADOWS The Complete Series Available For Pre-Order

Fans of the original DARK SHADOWS series rejoice! Or perhaps not, because unless you have a spare $599.98 (USD) then you won't be getting your hands on this amazingly huge box set.
The complete series is comprised of a massive 1,225 episodes across a staggering 131 DVDs plus a ton of extras. Currently available for pre-order, the box set will be released April 10th 2012. Check out the full list of features below. To pre-order this behemoth just head here.

  • 131 DVDs with all 1,225 Complete Episodes
  • Commemorative large Coffin package (housing 22 amarays)
  • Deluxe booklet with episode summaries & photographs
  • Special Bloopers, Treasures & Behind The Scenes DVD’s
  • Over 120 Bonus Cast & Crew Video Interviews
  • Autographed Postcard by Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins)
  • Limited Numbered Edition
  • Other features include nickel hinges, white ribbon to hold the lid when open, matte and foil coating
  • Box dimensions: (Coffin), 13 ½” L x 11 ¼” W (at widest) x 5 ¾” D.
  • Shipping carton dimensions,  16.5″ x 8.5″ x 14″
  • Weight –Shipping carton with contents – 15.5lbs


ATM (2012) Review

Directed by: David Brooks
Starring: Brian Geraghty, Josh Peck, Alice Eve

These claustrophobic / isolation horror films have always been a favorite of mine. It's really amazing to see what can be done with a small cast in a very limited location and a lot of the time these movies are executed really well. Obviously when you limit the geographical aspect of a film though, you need to increase the quality in other areas such as the script and the character development. This is where ATM falls short.

David and Corey (Geraghty and Peck) are friends and co-workers who work for a financial firm. Emily (Eve) is also a fellow employee however she is working her last day before she leaves to start a new job. It seems that David has had his eye on her for a while now but is too shy to ask her out, but since she is leaving he sees the company Christmas party as his last chance to make a move. After some awkward conversation David offers Emily ride home but forgets that he has already offered to take Corey home after the party. So the three set off with David visibly pissed at Corey's insistence at tagging along, and to piss him off even further Corey nags David to stop at an ATM so he can withdraw some cash and go buy some food. A short while later they stumble across the most isolated ATM in the world and David decides to park as far away from it as he possibly can. Somehow all three characters end up standing inside this enclosed ATM booth and when they turn to leave they see a mysterious figure standing outside the door. There is a bit of debate as to who this man is and why he's standing outside after midnight in sub-zero temperatures, but after he kills some guy taking his dog for a walk they realize that they are in big trouble.

I read a review before I watched this movie and it said something along the lines of ATM being a 15 minute idea trapped in a 90 minute movie, and I have to say that I completely agree. The concept is great and I can imagine this being made into a brilliant 15-20 minute short film. Stretching it to a 90 minute running time however was a terrible idea. The beginning of the movie has too much obvious padding as we are forced to get to know the very 2-dimensional characters and the filmmakers try to manufacture a really unconvincing romance between David and Emily. Right from the start Corey is presented to us as a bit of a tight-fisted, annoying asshole but even after we clearly get the picture, this fact is still constantly pushed at us as if we're all retarded. A poorly written screenplay from Chris Sparling (BURIED) makes it obvious just how stupid these three characters really are and how unrealistic their reactions to this scenario are. There are so many flaws when it comes to logic in this movie and basically you feel like you're watching three people make idiotic decisions while a killer sits outside and watches. Why would Emily leave her purse in the car when it's so far away from the ATM and she can't seem to lock the doors? Why doesn't the killer just smash his way into the booth and kill them instead of wasting time? Where the fuck is that water coming from? Why doesn't this 'secure' ATM booth have a phone? So many questions arise while viewing this movie and it's the kind of movie that makes you want to scream at the characters and tell them just how fucking stupid they are. Eventually some intelligent, logical decisions are made but always about a half hour after you've already thought of them yourself. 

Despite all of my previous bitching the movie isn't all bad. The acting is actually pretty good and some of the more tense moments are well done. Visually it looks great too with some nice camera work and lighting. But that's about it. The rest of the movie is dull and predictable and the ending is utterly stupid. I wouldn't recommend seeing this unless you have absolutely nothing else to do.


THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) Review

Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds

First off I should probably mention that I haven't read the original novel or the TV movie based on it, which I actually think is a good thing because it means I won't be comparing this remake to the original source material in this review. The prospect of seeing Daniel Radcliffe in something other than HARRY POTTER was a little strange at first and I was curious to see how well he could carry this movie. Thankfully by the time the credits rolled I was well impressed with what I had just seen.

Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a young lawyer who has been suffering from the death of his wife during childbirth a few years back and it has been affecting his performance at the law firm for which he works. He is sent on an assignment to prove his dedication to the firm. He must travel to a remote village on the outskirts of England to look over the papers and finalize the legal proceedings of the recently deceased Mrs Drablow. But when he arrives there is obviously something wrong. Children have been mysteriously dying and the townspeople want Arthur to leave as soon as possible. After a bit of sleuthing, Arthur seemingly finds more and more questions. Who was Mrs Drablow? And why will nobody venture near the old house on the island? And who is the woman dressed in black who keeps mysteriously appearing?
Arthur of course, takes it upon himself to try and unravel these mysteries.

On the surface this seems to be a generic ghost story. There is a dilapidated mansion on a remote island which is haunted by the ghost of its former inhabitant. A mysterious woman dressed all in black is seen, and each time a child dies in what seems like a terrible accident. Pretty standard fare for a ghost story really.
But what I thought set this apart from most others was the incredible atmosphere and the period setting. It really brought back memories of those classic Hammer titles from yesteryear.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK does a great job of ratcheting up the tension too and it is genuinely creepy. There are a few cheap jump scares thrown in but mostly the film relies on the atmospheric scares. And take a look at those toys and tell me that they aren't creepy as hell!
As for the acting, the entire success of the movie really relies upon Radcliffe's performance and though it may be hard to accept him as a father and lawyer rather than the boy wizard we're all familiar with, as the story moves along you don't really pay it much attention. Ciarán Hinds as Daily (Kipps' only friend in the town) is also a great support and Janet McTeer (Mrs Daily) does a good job too.
Even though the ending isn't exactly original or surprising, I found that it fit in just fine and wrapped up the whole experience nicely. 

So far this year THE WOMAN IN BLACK has been the only movie which I have really enjoyed. The story is easy to follow while not being boring, the acting is brilliant, the setting is perfect and the film just looks great. If you want to see a genuinely creepy and atmospheric ghost thriller then this is the movie for you.


SIMONE (2010) Short Film Review

Directed by: Joops Fragale
Starring: Erin Nicole Cline, Jennifer Ward

After being impressed by DATE NIGHT the prospect of watching another short film from 386Films was looking pretty good and I'm glad to say that SIMONE actually exceeded my expectations.

Simone (Ward) wakes up disoriented and seemingly very hungover. She is naked, her makeup is smeared and there is a half full bottle of vodka beside the bed. All of these pieces seem to suggest that she had herself a hell of a good night, even though she may not remember it. But then Simone starts to feel really ill and a series of flashbacks piece together a night which did not end well at all.

Both actresses do a great job and although there is minimal dialogue the film moves along fluidly, building tension until the big reveal at the end. The cinematography is brilliant, the use of lighting and camera angles make this film engaging from beginning to end. The only real criticism I have is regarding the very final moments of the film which I felt was a little too revealing and I think it could have been left out to leave a little to the viewers' imagination. Having said that though, it really isn't a big deal and doesn't detract from the viewing experience at all. There may also be a continuity problem or two but really what film doesn't have at least one of those? Apart from those minuscule problems the film is almost flawless.

SIMONE is a brilliant short film that delivers on style, tension, atmosphere and blood and it has only reinforced my love for short films. The softcore lesbian scenes are also a bonus. And even more good news is the fact that you can purchase SIMONE on dvd with a massive 85 minutes of bonus features including a commentary by producer Michael Long and director Joops Fragale, an on-set interview, 'Behind the Bitch' featurette and much more. Highly recommended.

DATE NIGHT (2011) Short Film Review

Directed by: Joops Fragale
Starring: Erin Nicole Cline, David Fuit

Recently I was contacted by writer / director Joops Fragale from 386Films to watch and review his latest short film DATE NIGHT as well as another short titled SIMONE. With this particular film being "conceived and shot  within a small window on a pizza and beer budget" I wasn't sure what to expect so I just decided to dive straight in.

I have to say that every short film I've seen recently has left me more than a little impressed. It's amazing what can be accomplished in a small running time (in this case about 15 minutes) on a micro budget with a small cast (only two characters here). Short films like Fatal Pictures' FAMILIAR have held my attention and entertained me for their entire duration and DATE NIGHT is no exception.

Erin Cline's character (only know as She) is having a phone conversation with a friend who is trying to lure her out to try and meet 'Mr Right'. She declines the invitation however and opts to spend her night alone on the couch watching TV. During a trip to the kitchen to cook up some popcorn She turns around to find a mysterious man in the room with her. Obviously she is confused and frightened. What confused me however is how quickly She is calmed by this mysterious stranger as he spouts every corny romantic line you could think of.
"You complete me"
"You make me want to be a better man"
"You are so beautiful"
And every other cornball line from countless Hollywood romance movies. Even though He (Fuit) delivers these lines in a very synthetic (and creepy) manner, She is obviously swept off her feet. She runs off to the bathroom to pretty herself up for a night with the man of her dreams. But is he really?

You've probably guessed by now that this isn't exactly a horror film, but it is a little creepy and drenched in dark humor with a very weird and surreal vibe. The performance from Cline is fantastic, delivering her lines believably and managing to make the situation seem normal when it is obviously not. Fuit also does a great job at giving his lines in a purposely artificial manner. Visually the film looks great especially when you take into account the tiny budget, and the sound and editing are equally impressive.
DATE NIGHT is a brilliantly conceived and executed short film and is well worth watching. If you would like to see it you can do so right here.


Interview With Sevé Schelenz - Writer / Director Of SKEW

Recently I was contacted by Canadian writer / director Sevé Schelenz to watch and review his POV psychological horror flick SKEW (full review here). I enjoyed the film immensely and took the opportunity to arrange an interview with Sevé who was kind enough to take some time out to answer my questions. Read on for the full interview.

Jake Cadaverous - "Hi Sevé. First of all could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into filmmaking?"

Sevé Schelenz - "Hi Jake, thanks so much for taking the time to interview me.  I’m pretty stoked to have the chance to chat with you about SKEW.  I feel pretty lucky to have been working in the film industry for over 15 years now.  Early on in high school I convinced my parents to buy me a VHS camcorder and I began shooting everything in sight.  This shooting quickly gave way to scripted material as I created short films and commercials.  It was around this time when my guidance counselor pressured me to figure out what I wanted to study for in university.  The funny thing is, I never thought of filmmaking as an option.  I guess I always believed you went on to post secondary school studying to be a lawyer or an accountant.  So I stayed clear of my counselor for weeks, as I didn't know what else I wanted to do.  It wasn't until he let me know that film school was an option when I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  After five years of study I entered the working world and started in post-production.  For the last fifteen years I've been paying the bills through jobs in editing and color-correction for movies and TV series work.  It was during this time that I made the decision to start working on my own projects.  I've had the chance to produce some television shows and write a few feature screenplays in the last while and I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive people who have helped make it happen.  I’m quite excited about the success of SKEW and I’m really happy to be working on the next project.  I’m a firm believer of “do it yourself” filmmaking and I think you have to have a very positive attitude to work in the film industry"

JC - "When did you first get the idea for SKEW and how long was it in development before you actually got around to filming it?"

SS - "In 2004 I put some thought into creating my first feature film – at least one that went beyond just writing a script.  The one problem that seemed to come up was budget.  I’d seen so many independent films that tried to be greater than they could actually afford to be - essentially trying to look like a Hollywood film with no money.  I really felt these movies didn’t work because the quality of the film removed me from the cinematic experience, therefore displacing me from the story and characters.  During the summer of that year, a few days before an actual road trip with two other friends, the idea finally struck me.  How do I get around creating a truly independent film that will still be accepted by the audience?  Holding a video camera in hand for our road trip, the film’s concept fully came to mind.  I quickly wrote the first draft of the feature during the entire four days of the trip.  Six months and a few versions of the script later, I completed the final draft of the film.  Before Paranormal Activity, Quarantine, and Cloverfield were in development, I looked to The Blair Witch Project for creativity.  It had been several years since this style of “found footage” film had been created and I thought there was opportunity to explore this creativity again.  The big difference was I didn’t want to copy the idea of the films footage being discovered and edited together for the audience.  So instead of using the camera as a gimmick, as most found footage films tend to do, I decided to go a different direction.  Without giving anything away, let’s just say that once you’ve seen SKEW you’ll quickly realize it’s not like any of these other films at all.  The reason is because SKEW is not actually a “found footage” film at all.  It’s actually a narrative feature that happens to be filmed in POV style from the video camera of one of the characters along for the road trip.  We went into production in 2005 and finished the film by 2010.  It took five years to complete due to the visual effects in the film.  When you’re relying on friends and favors, and you have a limited budget, this is just all par for the course"

JC - "Being an indie film with a limited budget I was amazed at the level of quality in regards to the acting, production values and basically everything. If you had access to a bigger budget is there anything you would have liked to add or improve on?"

SS - "Thanks so much for your kind words on the film.  I am quite proud of the final result of SKEW.  I really took the time to utilize all my resources and focus on making the film look bigger than the budget allowed it to be. SKEW was completely funded from 3 sources – me, myself, and I.  Yet even with the money I had, I relied on a lot of friends and favors in the film industry.  Quite frankly, if I had a bigger budget on the film, I would have kept everything as is and actually paid more to everyone who was involved.  Before the final edit of the film was locked, I originally had a different opening scene to the movie.  It was actually a POV shot from the camera of one of the passengers of the tour bus in the film.  From this viewpoint we were to see the deer standing in the middle of the road as our three main characters drove by.  Following this we would view the deer actually getting hit by a car as it drove through frame.  When I brought this shot to some visual effect houses they explained how long and how much this shot would cost to create – essentially a CG deer.  The cost on this alone was almost half the existing budget for production.  I decided to scrap the scene and begin SKEW exactly where it does today.  This is an obvious case where a bigger budget would have helped in solving this issue.  Yet at the end of the day, SKEW is supposed to look a little rough around the edges as it’s shot from one of the main characters handicams.  I personally feel we’ve achieved that look and I’m not too sure if a bigger budget would have helped or hindered that in the end"

JC - "SKEW has been invited to lots of film festivals and has picked up quite a few awards. Did you have any idea how much success your film would have?"

SS - "SKEW has been a real passion film for me.  Written in 2004, shot in 2005, and finally completed in 2010, the film has been six years in the making.  Upon completion of SKEW I screened the film with a sales agent who, once the credits rolled, turned to me and said, “This is a slam dunk sale!”  I was pretty excited to hear that news.  I mean it was my first feature after all.  A few weeks later, he was headed to the AFM (American Film Market) to hopefully line up the sales.  Well, one week before AFM a little film entitled Paranormal Activity premiered and took the weekend as the highest grossing low budget horror film in history.  We figured this was great news, as it would help to garner attention for SKEW.  Well, the opposite happened.  Every production company and their grandmother had “found footage” horror trailers of films that didn’t even exist at the Market and by the time distributors arrived at our table they didn’t want to hear any more about this type of film – even though ours was complete and ready to be bought!  So SKEW sat in limbo for almost six months before its world premiere at A Night of Horror International Film Festival in Australia.  From there it gained a little momentum and buzz as it started hitting some festivals in North America.  One year later SKEW has been burning up the festival circuit by premiering in over 40 and picking up 7 awards so far.  I’m so happy for the great run SKEW has been having and am very honored to be chosen by some of these great fests as they’ve taken a chance on my film.  The general audience reaction has been quite positive. I have always described SKEW as a “thinking man’s film.” You really have to pay attention from start to finish so you don’t miss anything, including the twist of an ending.  I had the great opportunity to be a part of some Q&A sessions following the screening of my film, and I am surprised and quite pleased at how attentive audiences have been with the story.  It’s even more fun to explain parts of the film to the viewers that may have missed something.  I love catching that moment of realization on their face when they finally understand a particular action or line of dialogue they originally didn’t catch.  It truly is amazing when I hear an audience member remark that they would like to see the film again to catch what they may have missed the first time"

JC - "What kind of advice would you give to prospective filmmakers?"

SS - "I have a message on my phone that comes on every time I hang up.  It says, “Never give up.”  As an independent filmmaker, nine times out of ten (hell, ninety nine times out of a hundred) you will get “No” for an answer.  Well, that’s unacceptable.   You have to keep moving forward and look for that “Yes.”  It will come.  Don’t be discouraged.  I would also say it’s so important to do your research.  Not just research on your particular project, but on the filmmaking process itself.  There are so many levels to making a film that you will inevitably not be prepared for and it will bite you in the ass later.  And finally: Pre-production.  I cannot stress how important it is to ensure that you are fully prepared before going into Production.  Trust me when I tell you that it’s better to spend that one extra week in Pre-production, on your own, to avoid disruptions on set when twenty crew members are looking to you for answers.  Oh, and one other thing: go read Rebel Without A Crew.  Not only will it teach you how to make a truly indie-style film, but it will inspire the hell out of you"

JC - "What are some of your personal favourite horror films?"

SS - "I’ve had the chance to attend a few horror festivals when SKEW was chosen as an official selection.  I met so many horror aficionados that I felt pretty wet behind the ears when it came to all the frightening Independent and Hollywood films out there.  I learned so much from these horrorphiles that it has really opened my eyes up to films that I still need to see.  These include: Let The Right One In, Wolf Creek and A Serbian Film.  As for those that I can check off my horror film bucket list: Halloween, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Ring and, of course The Blair Witch Project are some of my favorite horror films.  The one true characteristic that secures my love for a film of any genre is story.  Without a well-written screenplay, believability is thrown out the window and you lose interest not only for the story, but also for the characters—for whom we’re supposed to be sympathetic towards because they’re living the nightmare—and that is the kiss of death for a movie.  I continue to learn from such horror masters as John Carpenter and hope to one day be able to make films as good and diverse as his"

JC - "Who are some of your favorite directors and who are your biggest influences?"

SS - "I am very fortunate to have grown up in the 70s and 80s.  These two decades are filled with some of the greatest films ever:  Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Jaws and Back To The Future are just a few that have had a huge impact on me.  The writers and directors connected to these films have been a big influence in my life.  Spielberg, Cameron, and Zemeckis are fantastic directors who know how to tell a story through film.  When I hit university, Tarantino had a huge influence on me.  His storytelling, development of characters, and use of timeline manipulation really intrigued me.  Not to mention how he killed off characters in a cool way.  I am also a big fan of early M. Night Shyamalan – and let me clarify that by specifically referring to The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Shyamalan developed a sense of anticipation in his first two features that really grabbed my attention.  Once again, it’s the story that I’m most interested in and it’s that relationship between the screenwriter and the director that really makes or breaks a film.  Ultimately you cannot have a good film without a good script and more often than not I find directors who have either written it or had a large influence in the screenwriting process tell the best stories"

JC - "SKEW has a very ambiguous ending and leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination. Do you enjoy hearing different people’s personal opinions of it?"

SS - "Any movie that makes you think and discuss it afterwards is a good thing.  Especially if the film lingers long in the mind and has you asking more questions about it in the days following its viewing.  As the writer of SKEW I know exactly how the movie ends and its meaning.  Granted there is an opportunity for the audience to draw their own conclusion, but the clues are there to help you come to the same outcome.  I had a chance to end the film a few different ways and I debated over each one for some time.  The most important thing for me was having an ending that made sense and caught the audience off guard.  I didn’t want to have a conclusion that was too obvious or had been used the same way in many other horror films, especially ones that are deemed “found footage.”  I’ve had quite a few fans contact me and provide their own interpretation of the ending.  Quite frankly I’m honored that they took the time to write me.  Some of their insight into what the ending means and how the rest of the film is intertwined with it is quite incredible.  I’m stoked that fans took the time to think about what they saw and pieced that giant puzzle together.  I welcome viewers of Skew to drop me a line if they have any questions about the film.  The best way to reach me is through the IMDb page or my Youtube channel"

JC - "And finally are you working on any upcoming projects? If not then what are your plans for the future?"

SS - "I appreciate you taking the time to discuss SKEW.  I’ve been so lucky to have the opportunity to show it at several venues around the world.  So far we have screened at over 40 festivals, won 7 awards, and are streaming on Netflix in the U.S.  SKEW will also be on DVD in Germany, will have its U.K. premiere on Horror Channel, and will be available on PayTV in Russia all in the month of May 2012.  The movie will also have its Canadian premiere on TMN in June of 2012.  In addition to all this, I’ll be attending Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney, Australia in late March 2012 and will not only be screening SKEW there along with a Q&A afterwards, but will have the honor of being a feature judge at the festival.  So if you happen to be in the area, come down to the fest, support some independent film, and grab me for a chat.  Oh, and I should mention here that we’ve been working on the next script – yes, another horror feature – and hope to go into production in 2013.  This time we’ll be going a little more traditional and moving away from the handheld camera style of filmmaking.  Not to worry though, we promise a lot of blood, boobs, and black ooze on this one… and maybe a few twists too"

Once again I'd like to thank Sevé for taking some time out to partake in this interview. If you ever get the chance to see SKEW then I strongly urge you to do so, and if you have any questions about it Sevé will be glad to discuss them via the film's IMDb page or Youtube channel.
As Sevé said, he will be attending the Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney which runs from March 22nd until April 1st. He will be screening SKEW and also appear as a feature judge so check it out if you can and go support independent film.
SKEW is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.

SCREAM PARK Teaser Trailer

I've just stumbled upon the Facebook page for an upcoming slasher film and it definitely has me intrigued. SCREAM PARK takes place in an amusement park on closing night and is described as a "throwback to the golden age of 80s slasher films"
Written and directed by Cary Hill, SCREAM PARK began production in November last year with filming expected to continue through Spring and should have a release date later this year. The film stars horror legend Doug Bradley (HELLRAISER) alongside Wendy Wygant (MURDER MACHINE), Steve Rudzinski (THE SLASHER HUNTER), Dean Jacobs (SPINEVIEW), Alicia Marcucci (A BITTER LULLABY), Nicole Beattie, Kailey Marie Harris and Skinny Puppy vocalist Nivek Ogre.
Check out the teaser trailer and concept trailer below and visit the official website for more details.

Synopsis: A local staple for many years, Fright Land amusement park is closing its gates for the last time. A group of teenage employees decide to send the old park off by throwing a party inside after hours. The party is soon interrupted by the arrival of two strangers. The teenagers come face to face with terror as the strangers begin killing them off inside the park. As it turns out the park’s owner has a new plan to sell tickets — by making their grisly deaths the new attractions!


THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012) Review

Directed by: William Brent Bell
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth

THE DEVIL INSIDE just hit theatres here in Australia on March 1st and despite all of the negative feedback I've heard about it (literally everything I've heard about it has been negative) and the fact that it only has a 5% rating on RottenTomatoes I decided to watch it anyway.

Maria Rossi apparently killed three people in 1989 while an exorcism was being performed on her. 20 years later her daughter Isabella (Andrade) is on a mission to discover just what happened to her mother. She travels to a hospital for the criminally insane in Rome where Maria has been locked away to find out whether her mother really is just mentally ill or possessed by a demon. After visiting a school of exorcism she recruits two young priests (Quarterman & Helmuth) to try and prove that Maria is possessed and also to try and help her through unauthorized exorcisms and a mix of science and religion.

The film begins with a 911 call from Maria, confessing to the murder of three people, then we are shown through the crime scene via handheld camera as the police talk about the victims. Maria is tried in court but ultimately exempted on the grounds of insanity and is shipped away for some unknown reason to a mental hospital in Rome. The film then leaps forwards 20 years to daughter Isabella announcing that she wants to travel to Italy to find out what happened to her mother, and she wants to bring along cameraman Michael to film it all. She arrives in Rome where we are treated to lots of shaky camerawork and introduced to two priests. They decide to bring Isabella along to an actual exorcism. The exorcism scenes are done very well and have a certain look of realism about them, but scary? Not at all. Maybe a little creepy with the body contortions and such but if you've ever seen any other exorcism movie then this will be no surprise. We also get to see all of the other demonic possession hallmarks that are also shown in every other exorcism film ever made such as speaking in tongues, strange voices and super strength. However, none of these are shown with an effectiveness even close to something like say THE EXORCIST.
The inclusion of science alongside religion is a rather unique one, but whenever I hear both science and religion uttered in the same breath it makes me laugh. The two just don't mix.

Technically the movie is just what you'd expect from the mockumentary / found-footage sub-genre with plenty of shaky camerawork, grainy security camera footage etc. It is also exactly what you'd expect from any movie in the exorcism sub-genre with priests, bible passages, people being thrown across the room etc.
Apart from the lame inclusion of science there is absolutely nothing new here. There was maybe one standout scene for me (I won't say which) but in general I found it to be boring, bland and unoriginal. And definitely not scary. The acting leaves a lot to be desired too, especially in the case of Fernanda Andrade.
And I guess I should mention the controversial ending too, the part everybody seems to be complaining about. I actually though it was fitting and since it is a found-footage film I also found the ending to be realistic. It leaves questions unanswered but sometimes that's a good thing.

In summary I'd say it's definitely not a movie I plan on watching again, but it's also not one that I regret watching either. I've seen a few movies which have had me wanting my money back but this is not quite that terrible. Close, but not quite.