Tuesday, 21 October 2014

KWEENY REVIEWS...PHOBIA!

Phobia (2014)
REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS AND MADNESS! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

Today I got around to watching Phobia, a film by Quiet Box Productions. I found the trailer rather intriguing, and I really do love stories about people's decent into mental illness. Prefect viewing material for the holiday season, don't you think?

*kicks a door that rattles behind her* Hey! I told you to keep it down in there Sweeney! Your singing is driving me batty! I'm trying to do a review! Demons, I tell yeah...

*coughs* What was I saying again? Right, I like movies about crazy people!


Phobia is a strange movie, with some very interesting themes and scenes. There is some stuff to it I found rather jarring or didn't like, like the whimsical sounding song choice for the beginning and end credits. It just sounded too upbeat for such a dark film with subject matter like mental illness. But maybe that's the point. Sometimes things don't make sense when your crazy. There were a few other problems I had with the film but I will get to those soon.


For the most part, I enjoyed it. The story is of a grieving man with agoraphobia who has been trapped in house for over a year, and slowly, things go from bad to worse. He's on some heavy duty medications, so it's no wonder that the guy slowly slips into hallucinations and other weirdness. Not many folks visit him either. He has his doctor come and check on him, a friend named Taylor, and a lady who is paid to bring him his groceries, Bree. Other folks that show up are just delusions in his head. At points he thinks he sees a spooky wraith of a woman (who grows spider legs out of her back at one point), a strange man with veins all over his body and his dead wife, who comes in many forms. One covered in blood with scars from her autopsy.

Needless to say our main character Johnathan, has issues.


What I was really impressed with was the camera work and acting. Johnathan, played by Michael Jefferson, is brilliant and steals the show. Of course the main focus is on him, seeing as he is trapped in his head and inside his house, but still. The guy has acting chops. He convinced me he was suffering, and I am a recovering agoraphobic. After my mother's suicide in 2002, I locked myself away for a year or so. When you are agoraphobic, you think the only safe place is inside because you can control the inside world. Johnathan captured that pretty well I'd say, but his mental illness goes beyond that. He starts seeing shit, doing weird shit, the whole bit. I loved his character, and he really makes this story work.


Some of the shots and scenes in the movie are actually really well done too. Others, seemed like they dragged too long, but still were framed beautifully. The use of shadows and lighting really made things feel confined at times and stuffy, which helped add to the atmosphere. Sadly I don't think the poster actually represents what this film is about, as there is only one scene that has anything to do with spiders in it and looks nothing like this. And some of the scenes were really slow. They could have been cut down or taken out completely and the film would be great. While I wouldn't say this film was prefect, as I found the ending a little heavy handed (not on Johnathan's part, but after...You'll see if you watch it), I do think overall it was a pretty solid film. This is the first feature film of Director Rory Abel.


Give Phobia a shot, but just remember, we all die. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Resurgence of the Fanged Monster: Vamps With Bite

If you've been following my blog for a while then you know I am a huge supporter of monsters being monstrous. I understand the allure of a vampire being seductive and charming. I get it. I grew up with Anne Rice and had my fang banger phase. Who doesn't want to be bitten by Lestat right?

But when things like Sparkly Vampires came out the horror community rolled their collective eyeballs and turned away from vampires. Because those were not the vamps we knew. Even Lestat with all his velvet finery was still a monster. Part of his greatness was how he could woo us and then turn on us at a moment's notice. Stephanie Meyer gave us Edward who was a de-fanged creature. We vampire lovers thought our beloved creature of the night was never going to be taken seriously again, and was no longer able to disturb and unsettle us like before.

But thankfully, vampires still have hope. They have had a resurgence, almost in rebellion, against their sparkle counterparts, reminding people that vampires are MONSTERS. I think that Bela's birth was probably the closest thing to horror the Twilight series ever got. And I'm trying to be generous by saying that. It was a pretty terrible childbirth scene...

Well vampire fans, fear not. For I have complied a list of excellent vampire movies that have come out in the last few years that will give you a craving for blood again.  Some of these I am anticipating to be good, from all I've read about them, and I know there are a few more out there being worked on not on this list. It's good to see the fangs mean something with vampires again. Gotta support the monsters we love right?

VAMPS WITH BITE:


Midnight Son

This is an interesting take on the vampire myth. The characters and story are so original that it makes it hard to turn away from the screen. The two main characters are both struggling in different ways with conditions that are tearing them apart, and so they can find love and compassion in each other. One just happens to be a drug addict and the other...

Kiss Of The Damned

This one is a sexy, stylish movie that reminds me a lot of old vampire flicks. The old Dracula films where looks were everything, and the blood ran rich and red. It feels a lot like the 1970's vampire B films, and that is a big step away from sparkle vamps. The vampire's in Kiss of the Damned are not to be trifled with though. While they are beautiful, they are vicious, and hunt like wild dogs. 

Byzantium

If you haven't heard of this gem, you're in for a treat. It's a intense and powerful story of a mother and daughter trying to settle down and live normal lives, but they are being hunted because they are female vampires. In this story, female vampires are forbidden. It is a tragic tale that shows the loneliness of being a vampire and remembering a past you'd like to forget.

Only Lovers Left Alive

One of the favorite vampire films (so far). There is so much going for this film. Excellent plot, great acting, beautiful symbolism and depth. Watching the way all the vampires in this film interact with each other is stunning. This one is a slow build, but worth it as things unravel in their cycles. I would highly recommend it for a more deeper portrayal of vampires, especially with how the main couple interact with each other. They prove that love can stand the test of time.

Movies I Can't Wait To See:

Chimères

This one looks to be an intense look at what happens when you go to Romania and your blood transfusion is full of "strange" blood. I love the premise and from the trailer it looks to be terrifying!

What We Do In The Shadows

This movie looks to be a fun mockumentary about vampires, but I have heard good things about it and am eager to see it. There is nothing sensual about these vamps. This movie will bring a lighter mood to all the vampire films listed here, but it won't de-fang the vampire. 




Monday, 13 October 2014

Genre Talk: CHILDHOOD FEARS


After watching the first episode of American Horror Story: Freakshow and seeing how some of my friends reacted to the clown in the show, it got me thinking. I'm also doing a marathon of horror movies at the moment that deal with things like killer dolls, evil robots and other beings that were never meant to be alive, so all this is kind of mingling in my brain and making me contemplate what makes these things scary to some folks.

Because to me, they do nothing.

I don't see why they are scary. My theory from an outsider perspective is because they take something that should be innocent, something that is never meant to be tampered with, and twists it against humanity. It is a corruption of childhood. When it comes to things like clowns and dolls especially, these are meant to be things that charm children and comfort them. That was their original purpose for existing, and why sometimes some adults (like myself) like collecting dolls and clowns. Clowns especially are meant to be harmless, and are there to amuse and fascinate children. Dolls are meant to be companions, something to teach children to care for something outside themselves.

Perhaps it's just the whole Uncanny Valley thing. The way dolls, masks and clowns seem so close visually to normal humans, but there is something just...off about them. They aren't us. But they try to mimic us.


I personally don't actually see why these things are scary. I find them interesting and fascinating, just like I find masks symbolically intriguing. Masks can actually unnerve me though if they use it in just the right way, but dolls and clowns have never really frightened me. I like watching them try though. I laugh at their antics, and at best find them charming. Yes, I find IT charming. Even when he's creepy as fuck. Maybe I'm just drawn to the Uncanny Valley and wanna move in there.


The things that tend to freak me out aren't creatures. I find a little of myself in monsters and inhuman creatures. For me, fear doesn't tend to be things outside of the human experience. The unknown tends to draw me rather than repel me. But humanity at it's worst, now that triggers me. People being horrible to each other is much more convincing than an evil clown. The person under the clown is more frightening than the clown itself. Or cockroaches. I hate those fucking things. I figure a fear of clowns is akin to my fear of cockroaches, and I can get real irrationally violent and want to set the house on fire to make sure the fuckers die a horrible, screeching death. It's a primal fear. A phobia I have had since childhood. So if someone also carried a fear of dolls or clowns with the same lizard brain phobia, then I could see how watching something like Child's Play might be a bit much for them.

Horror is wonderful because it makes us face our fears, and sometimes, we can test our boundaries to see if we can overcome it, or be consumed by it. I still hate roaches, but I can deal with pictures of them better because I sometimes see them in films. Just don't put a real one in front of me. I might go all Firestarter and burn the house down with my mind.
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