Saturday's Full day of frights kicked off with a movie that promised to do for sharks what Jimmy Savile did for children's dreams....
Cage Dive (Australia 2017)
Director: Gerald Rascionato.
Cast: Joel Hogan, Josh Potthoff, Megan Peta Hill, Suzanne Dervish-Ali and some sharks.....hang on, how can it have a cast list if it's meant to be real? THEY LIED TO US!
Deciding to film an audition tape for submission to an extreme reality game show three really fucking annoying Californians - Jeff (Wannabe real life He-Man toy Hogan), his brother Josh (Potthoff) and Jeff’s girlfriend Megan (the rabbit-like Peta Hill) travel to Australia in order to document themselves taking part in a wee bout of shark cage diving.
As well as film themselves getting pissed, having parties etc because we all know how enjoyable that is to watch.
But while on the dive, a catastrophic turn of events leaves them in baited water full of hungry Great White Sharks and turns there audition tape into a snotty nosed survival cum bitching diary.
|Shite in mah mooth....if only to brighten up this movie.|
Obviously the chance of being eaten by sharks at any moment isn't exciting enough so director Gerald Rascionato adds a heart condition and a two-timing fiancée to the mix.
As well as an incredibly hilarious scene where Megan attempts to warm up a fellow survivor with a rescue flare.
Because as we know girls are rubbish in stressful situations.
Frankly I feel sorry for the sharks that have to eat these narcissistic no marks.
But if you really must see Americans getting stuck in a cage whilst fighting sharks check out Johannes Roberts frankly fantastic In The Deep (AKA 47 Meters Down) instead.
If they ever decide to release it that is.
From found footage shocks to pretty frocks now with.....
Fashionista (USA 2016)
Dir: Simon Rumley.
Cast: Amanda Fuller, Ethan Embry, Alex Essoe and Eric Balfour.
|"I can see your house from here Peter!"|
After Red, White and Blue and Johnny Garrett’s Last Word comes mighty bearded director Simon Rumley’s third Austin, Texas based shocker.
A hypnotic and bracing exploration of identity, body image and transformation via the wacky world of vintage clothing where hipster shop owners April and Eric (Fuller and Embry) find their marriage on rocky ground when she begins to suspect her husband of having an affair.
When her suspicions are confirmed, April seeks sexual validation with the mysterious and kinky Randall setting off a chain reaction of stylish fever dream madness, fantasy role-playing and chic ultra-shriek that's less Blue Velvet more Blue Broderie Anglaise.
See what I did there?
Unfolding like a particularly complex origami ostrich, Rumley's most accomplished movie to date is a harrowing and heartbreaking homage to the genius of Nicholas Roeg, wearing it's obviously proud influences on its finely tailored sleeve.
Bloodlands (Australia/Albania 2016)
Dir: Steven Kastrissios.
Cast: Gëzim Rudi, Emiljano Palali, Alesia Xhemalaj and Suela Bako.
|The community centre stage version of Die Hard went down a storm with the under 12's.|
Shot on location in Abania - and in Albanian - and rooted in the very real phenomenon of blood feuds ( or ‘Kanun Lek’ laws) still plaguing the country (think Govan but with fewer pikeys), Bloodlands tells the tale of a struggling Albanian family led by local butcher Skender (Rudi), who struggling to to maintain order amongst his children - his daughter Iliriana (Xhemalaj) is planning to leave home for the bright lights of Italy and his son Artan (Emiljano Palali) is more interested in becoming a photographer than taking over his father’s shop - is thrust into a war with a family of forest-dwelling beggars , rumoured to be led by a vampiric witch.
Which is nice.
|Did a search for the Bloodlands cast on Google to illustrate the review and this came up. According to the caption it's actress Alesia Xhemalaj in a pretty frock. Fair enough then.|
Unfolding at a pace that could best be described as (very) leisurely Bloodlands blends domestic drama and supernatural scares in such a matter-of-fact way as to make it difficult to decipher to a viewer not totally au fait with Albanian culture, tho' that's not to say it isn't an enjoyable journey - just at times wee bit too meandering and alien to truly be affecting.
Tho' that probably says more about me than the film.
Still it's as intriguing as it is frustrating - fantastically played and utterly believable which bodes well for Kastrissios' next movie.
Plus Alesia Xhemalaj is very cute in a kinda homely way.
Detour (UK 2016)
Dir: Christopher Smith.
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley and Stephen Moyer.
From Christopher (Creep, Severance, Black Death and Triangle) Smith, Detour finds law student Harper (Sheridan) suspecting his stepdad Vincent (Moyer) of causing the car crash that landed his mother in a coma so when a chance meeting with tough, tattooed redneck Johnny Ray and his girlfriend Cherry (pitch perfect performances from Cohen and Powley) gives him an opportunity to discover the truth our student pal begins a terrifying road trip of revenge and random violence.
Playing out like the evil sibling of 1998s Sliding Doors, Detour takes the basic premise of the classic Patricia Highsmith novel Strangers On A Train (I'm sure that would make a great film) Smith's perfectly plotted, sexily shot and smartly edited little thriller is a joy from start to finish.
Next up was Raw - the film that'd had everyone ranting, raving and salivating in anticipation, Julia Ducournau's coming of age tale of vets, vegetarianism and cute cannibals that - according to its PR people - had made folk faint in the aisles at Cannes.
Tho' that may have been the smell of all that garlic and onion.
I must admit I was intrigued and not just because the lead actress looked uncannily like Cécile Fournier*.
Raw (France/Belgium 2016)
Dir: Julia Ducournau.
Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella.
|Lest we (well I) forget.|
So, what's it all about then?
Justine (Marillier) a strict vegetarian, applies to vet school (which surprisingly isn't a brand new Channel 4 reality show) following on the family tradition started by her parents and her big (chinned) sister Alexia (Rumpf) but after being forced to eat a rabbit’s liver as part of a bizarre - yet very continental - initiation ceremony begins to develop a hunger for (human) flesh.
Merde dans ma bouche française parfaitement formée
Enjoyable enough but ultimately hollow and vacuous.
Unlike the aforementioned Ms Fournier obviously.
With a sad feeling of disappointment in my stomach (I'd only packed one packet of Quorn Cocktail Sausages for the whole day) I quickly headed outside for a sly fag in order to prepare myself for what promised to be the other killer movie of the weekend - Ben Young's pervy pedophile potboiler Hounds Of Love.
Excitement factor was high due to Australia presenting us with a couple of top quality frighteners over the last few years like the fantastic Wolf Creek, Rogue and The Loved One.
Saying that they foister the utter shite-cake that was The Babadook on us too so you can never too careful.
Hounds of Love (Australia 2016)
Dir: Ben Young.
Cast: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry and Susie Porter.
"Troubled" teen (aren't they all?) Vicki (Home and Away's Cummings) after an argument with her recently divorced mum Maggie (Star Wars babe Hermione Bagwa herself Porter) sneaks out to attend a pals party one night when she's accosted on the way by the creepy John and Evelyn (Currie and Booth).
The pervy pair persuade Vicki to go home with them in order to buy some of 'the hash' but they have something else in mind, drugging the screwed-up schoolie before tying her to a bed and using her as their own personal fuck-monkey.
Which isn't that unexpected really given the films synopsis.
|We're Cortina trap.|
Cue 90 minutes of screaming, dodgy mustaches, dog kicking and long, pleading looks as Vicki goes from victim to victor as she attempts to expose the cracks in the couple’s relationship.
Neither as nasty or blackly comic as The Loved Ones or Wolf Creek, Hounds of Love comes across as a great idea marred by so-so execution and a simplistic script that has 'mah weak wimmin' under the thumb of an (even weaker) man.
Performances are OK but the under-developed almost panto style, one dimensional characterizations and lack of development hamper what should be an uncomfortable and grueling watch and when the most cringe-inducing scene is the totally inappropriately and irony free use of Joy Division's Atmosphere over the closing scenes then you know you have problems.
The cast do their best but bless 'em it's an uphill struggle.
Which is all the more disappointing when you realize that the film is based on a truly harrowing real-life case ( that of David and Catherine Birnie) that's ripe for a full 'In Cold Blood' style psychological retelling.
Plus it's difficult enough to lure young girls into cars without films like this getting made.
And how do you follow that? I hear you cry.
Well with a wee bit more forced sex and violent violation.
But it's OK as this time it's strictly for laughs.
Night of the Virgin (Spain 2016)
Dir: Roberto San Sebastián.
Cast: Javier Bódalo, Miriam Martín and Víctor Amilibia.
It's New Years Eve and the nerdy and naïve Nico (Bódalo) is out on the town and determined to lose his virginity.
He should have just hung about suburban Perth and looked out for John and Evelyn for tips seeing as his attempts at seduction ultimately end with him getting vomit covered shoes.
Despondent and desperate for a diddling he finally comes across (not in that way, well not yet) uber MiLF Medea (Martín) and before he knows what’s happening he’s back at her filthy flat surrounded by sinister Asian artifacts and crawling cockroaches as an ancient prophecy prepares to rear its ugly head.
And if that wasn't enough there's a rowdy party of homosexualists upstairs and a very jealous ex-boyfriend waiting in the wings.
Roberto San Sebastián’s feature debut is a slick, sick semen drenched, shit stained comedy of (t)errors that proudly vies for the title of most digustingly disturbing movie ever.
And there's something to be admired about a film that's so honest.
At 2 hours the film is oh-so slightly overlong, leaving the viewer as exhausted as poor Nico after his arse destroying birthing of a blackened beast of Hell but it's heart is in the right place and I'd rather a movie deliver too much that not enough.
Especially when the director is in attendance showering the screen with abuse and comedy asides.
To be honest every film could probably be improved by this.
In parts massively enjoyable and slightly frustrating Night of The Virgin bodes well for the teams next foray into body (fluid) horror and I for one will be at the front of the queue.
A perfect end to a wonderful weekend.
Same time next year guys?
*If you don't know this story already you can find out more here. I'll warn you tho' I'll probably keep on about this till she gets in touch.