The latest in a new generation of slasher films that harken back to the 80s heyday, Cary Hill’s Scream Park is the first one I have seen actually billed as a “retro slasher”.
What exactly is a retro slasher?
I’m thinking of films like Hatchet, Full Moon’s recent PMS Cop, and upcoming throwback films like The Pick-Axe Murders III : The Final Chapter and Stage Fright. This is one trend that I could definitely get behind, as many of my youthful days were spent haunting video store aisles and watching every horror flick I could get my hands on.
Scream Park could have easily fit on those old unorganized shelves, existing happily between April Fool’s Day and Sleepaway Camp.
The first forty minutes or so play out exactly like 2009′s Adventureland, but with 100% less Kristen Stewart and/or Ryan Reynolds, which gives Scream Park bonus points already. The staff of the park decide to throw a party at the end of the night after learning that the park will be closing down, and they are all losing their jobs.
The cast of victims (er, characters) are introduced quickly and in typical broad strokes. They are the nice girl, the jock, the punker guy, the slutty chick, the goth, the uptight manager ; they have names like Marty and Roy and Carlee. They are underage and like to drink and screw. Got it?
Needless to say that things really get going when bad guys show up and begin to take them out one by one, of course, in creative practically-staged ways. The killers are first glimpsed lurking around the fringes of the park, but as they begin making their moves, we get more close-up looks at the sadistic killers and the freakish home-made masks they wear.
Top-billed Doug Bradley shows up about an hour into the film in one extended cameo scene as Mr. Hyde, the over-the-top owner of the park with a secret agenda. I don’t think it is a spoiler to note that Mr. Hyde is the one behind these murders (as it is right there in the official synopsis), and the whole thing has been set up to try and drive more business to the park in the future. Bradley of course has a convincing demeanor that would make anything sound like a great idea. His three minutes of film is a highlight.
One thing that is troubling is the inconsistent tone. I am unsure when the film is actually set. The characters dress and act like typical movie teenagers from the 1980′s, but they reference Twilight and cell phones.
Is this a retro slasher, or just a cheap modern slasher with retro elements?
Either way, this is the kind of film we could use more of.
It plays out exactly like it sounds, as if it were a hidden discovery from those days of picking out a movie based on it’s cover art from the horror section of your local video store.
Scream Park definitely follows the tried and true slasher rules, with no attempt to subvert or re-invent them.
It is actually kind of refreshing.
No social commentary. No meta theories. Best of all, no CGI blood splatters.
Just a cast of teenagers trying to survive the night, trapped in an interesting location, hunted down by killers, with one Final Girl remaining.
It is a goofy, gory fun time.
Simplicity itself, well worth a watch.
Well, unfortunately last week’s announcement of Robert Englund returning to fill Freddy’s glove once again was a cruel April Fool’s joke. The good news is the excellent fan-made series “Krueger” continues this week with part 4 of the story of the man before the burns.
Starring Roberto Lombardi as everyone’s favorite dream-stalker, this prequel from director Chris R. Notarile just keeps getting better.
You can see the first three chapters right here, and please enjoy the newest installment “The Slasher From Elm Street” below.
Be sure and stay tuned to the official Krueger Facebook page for more updates and info about the series. I know I will be looking forward to the next chapter!
Misty Marie, also known as “Kittie”, has been creating her own unique brand of clothing with us weirdos in mind for the last ten years now. She tells me that she started out cutting up band shirts, and using patches to make corsets, shoes, jewelry, and much more.
With a decidedly unique horror-themed approach to designing artwork as clothing, she began experimenting with different designs and fabrics, all created with the passion of someone who loves what they are doing.
She says, “I consider my clothes as art because they never turn out as I think they will, always changing my idea through making them, and most of the time my best pieces are made by accident. I’ve been a traveler most of my life and I had to make some kind of trade to make some money. One day I discovered cutting the tops of dresses and sewing on different bottoms looked really awesome, so I also got into doing patch-work. The first pair of pants I made were so awesome and I sold them for a 40oz and some food money to a very excited girl, who had wanted them for awhile…”
We share her work often on the Horror Homework Facebook page, as she is constantly working on new designs and presenting them for sale on Etsy for anyone who is looking for something one-of-a-kind for someone with a dark side!
Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is coming up!
Do you have a favorite horror movie?
Hellraiser, of course. But i enjoy them all even the B’s.
Has there ever been something that you created that you found difficult to part with?
Yes, most of my pieces I create an attachment to. My art is like my babies.
I’ve actually not sold some items to people because I felt they wouldn’t take care of them.
Everything looks so soft and cozy. What kind of fabrics do you use?
I use cotton,Lycra, soft vinyl, and leather. On my furries I use faux fur.
Lol yeah I make furry costumes too. I have a fetish for being a kittie so I made myself a kittie costume and posted it and started getting orders for them. Mine are unique I make corsets to match.
Is there a dream project you have not gotten around to yet?
Yes! To make a full burlesque outfit! Made out of serial killer fabric.
Serial killer fabric? Where do you find such a thing?
I print my own fabric. I printed my john Gacy and Hellraiser fabrics, and can print any image into fabric for custom orders.
Netflix is a gift and a curse.
Since it’s arrival on the Home Video scene, the company has all but destroyed video stores and rental services as we knew them, and re-invented the way we get our movies. Streaming is the way of the future, and Amazon and many other video services have followed suit and created their own ways of getting the instant gratification we are all seeking.
However, Netflix is still the leader in this area, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t kick down the 8 bucks a month for unlimited movies.
The problem comes with the choices. There are so many, and some are categorized very strangely, that it is possible to just scroll through the choices for hours at a time without making a decision.
I get asked for recommendations consistently, so what follows is a list of hidden gems and new additions to Netflx Streaming that you may have missed, recommended for your horror/weirdo viewing pleasure!
I hope you guys enjoy the list that follows, and if I have missed any of your favorites, please leave a comment. I am always looking for new things to creep me out as well!
Contracted is a recent addition to the service, released a few months ago.
An excellent premise presenting the zombie virus as a mysterious sexually transmitted disease, this one is definitely worth a late night watch.
Not for the squeamish or promiscuous, the film features a dark social commentary with some disgusting practical effects. Add to that a solid performance from Najarra Thownsend as Samantha, this is one will stick with you.
I wrote a full review of Contracted upon it’s release, which you can see here.
The Lair Of The White Worm
Ken Russell’s follow-up to the 1986 film Gothic was this loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s less-known final novel, The Lair Of The White Worm. Featuring a young Hugh Grant in his first starring role as James d’Ampton, ancestor of a legendary giant worm-slayer, this flick messed with my head as a youngster. The psychedelic sequences brought on by the seductive snake lady Sylvia March make the film worth a watch, and the overall mythology of the legendary White Worm make for a unique horror experience.
Watch this one while medicated.
We Are What We Are
Another recent release that was just added the service is Jim Mickle’s excellent follow-up to Stakeland, this American remake of We Are What We Are. Since seeing this one, I have searched fruitlessly for a copy of the Spanish original, which I understand is very different.
Taken on it;s own, however, this film is a hypnotic slow-burning character study full of great performances. The story of the back-woods Parker family, the film begins as the family begins to fall apart with a shocking tragedy, and degenerates from there.
They are not what they seem, but they are what they are. The film plays out at a tragic measured pace, as the father tries desperately to keep his family together and their odd traditions alive, as a local doctor (played by the always awesome Michael Parks) gets closer and closer to the truth.
This one is a must see.
Drew : The Man Behind the Poster
A fascinating documentary about the legendary poster artist Drew Struzan, this film is required viewing for all creative people, or anyone who enjoys beautiful artwork. The name of Drew Struzan may not be instantly recognizable to all of you, but his classic poster work surely is.
He is the one responsible for all of those amazing posters we grew up drooling over in the 1980′s. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To The Future, The Goonies — Drew Struzan was the man behind these iconic images we all know and love!
This documentary takes a look at his life and work, and gives a fascinating insight into the mind of a true artist. Just awesome viewing.
Attack On Titan
Okay. Anime is not my normal favorite thing. But this show…damn!
The premise is a unique and fully-imagined one, with a dark sense of humor and social commentary and they kill off characters with the sadistic glee of George Martin.
With all 25 episodes available (and the pushy way Netflix starts the next episode automatically 8 seconds after the last one ended) you would be hard-pressed not to get hooked immediately and waste a day binging on this unique series.
I won’t tell you much except that the story revolves around an isolated city surrounded by a series of giant walls designed to protect the inhabitants from the threat of the menacing Titans, over-sized mindless maniacs with a taste for human flesh. Each episode is action-packed and dramatic, and hard to stop watching once you start. Recommended.
FDR : American Badass
After an excited recommendation from a friend at fellow horror page Horror and Shit, I was inspired to watch this ridiculous satirical epic. With a concept so absurd and actors committed to the delivery of some of the most insane dialogue with the straightest of faces, this flick won me over in the opening scene where the titular president gets polio from a werewolf bite. Yup.
The 80 minutes or so that follow are a treasure trove of quotable lines and over-the-top slapstick violence as Barry Bostwick takes on a multi-national coalition of murderous werewolves. With writing and dry performances that bring to mind the old Zucker brothers’ classics from the 80s like Airplane! and The Naked Gun, this one is a real hidden gem.
Need a laugh at something so absurd it shouldn’t even exist?
Click on this one, and thank me later.
Tales From The Darkside : The Movie
A classic from my days growing up, the film version of Tales From The Darkside is hit-and-miss. Rumors have always floated that the film was intended to be Creepshow 3 (!), and it definitely has that flavor, with a wrap-around story that brings us Debbie Harry as witch planning a dinner party with a kidnapped child intended as her main dish who postpones his fate by telling her some progressively better stories.
The first story “Lot 249″ has always kind of bored me to be honest, despite the presence of Steve Buscemi. The second short, The Cat From Hell, ( a Romero/King collaboration) is fun but pretty empty. The last story, Lover’s Vow, is the one that has always stuck with me, following the life of a struggling artist and the promise he makes and breaks with horrifying consequences. Just a great story, with some fun practical effects!
The Soska Sisters haunting follow-up to Dead Hooker In A Trunk, American Mary tells the story of a young medical student hitting hard times, who stumbles into an underground body-modification culture where she learns to flourish in a whole new way.
Ginger Snaps’ Katherine Isabelle (all grown up!) stars convincingly as Mary, and we are taken along her journey into a dark hidden world full of creeps and weirdos, as well as surprisingly genuine beautifully-modified people. The film works on all of these levels, and is destined for cult classic status.
Check it out.
Looking for a good fast-paced gore-fest? Then, look no further than Frankenstein’s Army!
A found-footage flick set in the end days of World War II, we go along for the ride as a group of Russian soldiers stumble into the ruins of a village occupied only by a mad scientist and his awesomely designed monstrous creations.
Although a little light on substance, this one works as a late-night thrill ride, and is reminiscent of being pushed through a well-done haunted house attraction.
Jump scares and gory scenes galore!
Looking for something light-weight and different with gorgeous monster effects?
Check out Frankenstein’s Army!
Night Of The Living Dead (1990)
This is one of the few films that makes the case for why remakes exist, even though so many of them fail. Tom Savini’s directorial debut takes George Romero’s original terrifying concept to a new colorful level in this excellent remake.
Starring pre-Candyman Tony Todd as Ben, and Patricia Tallman as Barbara, the film hits the ground running and doesn’t slow it’s pace until the final haunting scenes. Savini’s experience as a special effects master brought a new level of realistic decay to the film’s look, and kept all of Romero’s original social commentary intact, resulting in a film that works so well on every level. This is definitely one of my favorite remakes of all time, and one of my favorite ever horror films, period. Tom Savini does an amazing job with this modern classic, and it is a shame he hasn’t directed more films!
Riki-Oh : The Story Of Ricky
So…I was going to end this list at 10, but this one goes to 11!
I just discovered, through my browsing, that The Story Of Riki is now available on the service, and this one is a must see for fans of, well, movies.
If you have never seen this insane bit of awesomeness, stop what you are doing right now and start it up. That’s all I have to say about that.
For any of you who don’t have Netflix, or have the inferior service across the pond, all of these recommended flicks are available through Amazon Streaming or purchase using the widget below. Enjoy!
Full Moon Studios has been around for years, spreading their unique brand of low-budget horror and exploitation to the masses. Rivaled only by Troma Studios, these quick and dirty do-it-yourself films were easy to appreciate in the simplest ways, as a sort of taboo. They always gave you the feeling that you were watching something you shouldn’t be watching.
As a child of the 70s growing up in the 80s, scoring the latest lurid Full Moon title from the video store on the corner was always a treat, a special kind of gift for the young horror fan. These films seemed to have no rules, no manners, and very often, no obvious redeeming qualities.
And these are my favorite kind of films.
Now, the days of passing off the newest tattered VHS copy of Re-Animator in the school hallway are long gone, but the studio who brought us so much exploitation joy has adapted with the times, bringing us a brand new streaming service. With 100s of movies to choose from under the Full Moon and Wizard banners available for instant streaming, the studio has also enticed a new generation of insensitive low-budget filmmakers to add to their library.
First out of the gate is PMS Cop, a new feature from director Bryon Blakey, which goes live on the service today, April 4th 2014!
Described as a dark comedy horror, the official synopsis reads : Mary, a police officer, suffers from severe PMS. After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life, she is encouraged to get help. A local pharmaceutical company is holding trials for a new drug, corybantic, that is designed to stop PMS. Mary enrolls and after a tragic event, she has a horrific side effect. With superhuman strength, she begins to kill everyone in her path without mercy.
And, if you weren’t sold by the end of the second sentence above, then this is definitely not your cup of tea. Keep on moving, as we cover all the aspects of horror here, from the artsy to the goofy, and this one falls squarely onto the side of “goofy” (not that that is a bad thing).
So, for the rest of you out there like me, who read “After beating a clown rapist to within an inch of his life”, here is the button to push to watch now!
After a disclaimer that says “The producers of this movie are in no way admitting to the existence of PMS”, the film kicks right off with the aforementioned clown rape scene, complete with some lovely exposed breasts in the first minute (!)
Our hero cop team arrives just in time to stop the menacing balloon-shaping antics of the deviant clown and chases him through a skate park, ultimately taking out the suspect. Unfortunately, the incident is caught on video, and the officers are called in to be reviewed by a psychologist.
Heather Hall as Mary is appropriately hostile and very funny in the opening scenes as the officer who takes no shit. The doctor infers that she beat the clown into submission simply because she was PMS-ing, and sends her off to be treated by a new trial drug.
We learn through flashbacks that Mary’s life has been no picnic, and she finally breaks after a sudden tragic loss and begins her reign of terror.
After she snaps, Mary becomes an imposing figure with her mirrored shades and tear-streaked mascara, and embarks on a “Falling Down”-style rampage through town. Her first victims are wife-beaters and pick-pockets, and she proves that she can rip off jaws with the best of them.
Unfortunately, the first half of the movie is where we get all of this good stuff, as the premise seems to run out of steam shortly after Mary is captured and detained to be studied. From this point, we get a lot of chatter from the doctors and various background characters from the sinister pharmaceutical protege to a hapless computer hacker, all spouting ideas and theories in drawn-out sequences, when all we really want to see is Mary doing more menstrual murdery stuff.
To be fair, as she makes her escape there are several scenes of glorious appendage-ripping and great spurts of practical blood effects. And it all wraps up nicely in a perfect set-up for potential sequels, which is how I remember most of those old films ending.
In all honesty, I liked Mary more in the opening scenes when she was a wise-cracking disillusioned realist rather than when she turns into the mindless (and dialogue-free) killing machine (played stoically by Cindy Means). PMS Cop may not be everyone’s cup of tasteless tea, but it does what it sets out to do, evoking the classic feel of the early 80s exploitation flicks and giving us some inappropriate chuckles. Overall, this film is a bloody good time.
Check it out exclusively on Full Moon Streaming, releasing today!
Here with an exciting list for this April. Lots of good stuff for your viewing pleasure this month. I have to say that I am most looking forward to Wolf Creek 2, and Nurse!
PMS Cop and Scream Park are both low-budget throwbacks worth a watch, and we finally get to sink our teeth into Afflicted!
Which of these films will you be watching this month?
In this comedic fantasy adventure, Joe (Ryan Kwanten) is a heavy metal rocker who’s just gone through a painful breakup with his girlfriend, Beth (Margarita Levieva). His concerned roommates (Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage) kidnap him to their LARP (Live Action Role Playing) gathering, where he enters a realm of fantasy escapism in which pretend knights, elves, and barbarians clash with foam weaponry on a mock battlefield. When Joe’s “sorcerer” roommate (Zahn) inadvertently summons a deadly succubus that takes Beth’s seductive form, bloody reality crashes down upon their fantasy world. Once LARPers start to turn up dead, the make-believe wizards and warriors must join forces with other adventurers (Summer Glau, Danny Pudi) to become the real life heroes they have been pretending to be and conquer the unleashed evil.
When teenager Camilla Swanson, a starry-eyed kitchen hand, lands herself a role in the Broadway-bound showcase at the musical theater camp where she works, but just when rehearsals begin, blood starts to spill. The camp is being terrorized by “Metal Killer”, a masked slasher who screams death metal rock while hunting down every last pretentious cast member of the show.
April 4 — Afflicted (On Demand and in Limited Theatrical Release)
Best Friends Derek and Clif set out on a trip of lifetime. Their plan–travel to the ends of the earth, see the world, and live life to the fullest. But the trip soon takes a dark and bloody turn. Just days in, one of the men shows signs of a mysterious affliction which gradually takes over his entire body and being. Now, thousands of miles from home, in a foreign land, they must race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely. Footage meant to be travel memories may now become evidence of one of the most shocking discoveries ever captured on film…and perhaps will be their only postcard home.
After being caught on camera brutally beating a clown rapist, police officer Mary Collins is informed by her commanding officer that she needs counseling. Her therapist quickly concludes that she suffers from extreme PMS and enrolls her in a drug trial for the new menstrual wonder drug Corybantic. Mary responds positively until a devastating incident throws her into a monstrous drug-induced killing frenzy. Soon everyone who comes into contact with the PMS cop realizes it IS her time of the month.
Jesse begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, it isn’t long before Jessie finds he’s been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it’s only a matter of time before he is completely under its control…
Paz de la Huerta turns up the body heat in this wickedly entertaining story of a fatal attraction. By day, nurse Abby Russell (de la Huerta) lovingly attends to the patients at All Saints Memorial Hospital; by night, Abby prowls nightclubs, luring unfaithful men into dangerous liaisons. After Danni, a young, sensitive nurse, joins the hospital staff, Abby pursues her friendship. But when the friendship turns to obsession, Danni spurns Abby, unleashing Abby’s fury and a rampage of terror.
England: 1648 AD. A small group of deserters flee from a raging battle through an overgrown field. They are captured by two men: O’Neil and Cutler. O’Neil (Michael Smiley), an alchemist, forces the group to aid him in his search to find a hidden treasure that he believes is buried in the field. Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal, the group quickly descend into a chaos of arguments, fighting and paranoia, and, as it becomes clear that the treasure might be something other than gold, they slowly become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field.
Lured by the promise of an Australian holiday, backpackers Rutger, Katarina, and Paul visit the notorious Wolf Creek Crater. Their dream Outback adventure soon becomes a horrific reality when they encounter the site’s most infamous local, the last man any traveler to the region ever wants to meet; Mick Taylor (John Jarratt).
As the backpackers flee, Mick pursues them on an epic white knuckled rampage across hostile wasteland. Only one will remain to be dragged back to his lair to witness the true magnitude of his monstrosity. And if the last man standing is to have any hope of surviving where no one else has survived before, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning to outwit the man behind the monster and become every bit as ruthless as the monster inside the man.
The Fright Land amusement park is on the verge of closing its doors forever. But the park’s owner, Hyde (Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley), has one last plan to sell more tickets… murder. Hiring two backwoods maniacs to break into the park and hack and slash all his employees, Hyde thinks these killings will create a media sensation, but he has just unleashed a horror that no one can survive.
April 29 — Devil’s Due
After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.
Great news for us horror fans came in today, with the announcement that New Line Cinema has finally decided to listen to the pleas of fans and bring back Robert Englund as Freddy for one last hurrah!
Even better, similar to last week’s news of a secret Phantasm sequel, this new Nightmare film has already been shot, by none other than Freddy creator and original Nightmare director Wes Craven!
The film is currently being edited by Craven and long-time collaborator Bob Shaye with practical special effects all done by FX master Tom Savini, and they are hoping for an October release.
Calling the 2010 remake of the beloved cult classic a “disgrace”, Craven claims to be bringing the iconic film series back to it’s roots, with a new vision of what could be the darkest and most disturbing take on the legacy of Fred Krueger ever.
Our source says that Craven has utilized every dark and horrific idea that he was never allowed to put into the older films into this new version of Freddy, and claims that this will be the film that turns Freddy back into the horrifying villain he was at the beginning of the franchise in 1984.
“Over the years,” says our source, “Fred Krueger somehow transformed from the awful nightmarish creature he was into a comedy sketch version of that. Our intention is to return the character to his dispicable roots, and make the audience fear him rather than cheer for him.”
We are very excited by this news here at Horror Homework, and will be sure and keep you updated as more details emerge about this dream come true film!
I mean, what one of us out there doesn’t want to see one more Nightmare On Elm Street sequel starring the original icon?
I know that I would love to, if this news were true!
Happy April first, everyone.
French artist Kasami-Sensei has made an internet wave with his new series of drawings combining classic Disney characters with the world of The Walking Dead.
Check out his unique mash-up in the gallery collected below, and be sure and follow Kasami-Sensei on DeviantArt!
Phantasm :the delusion of a disordered mind. A phantom ; a ghost.
One of the most wanted films from horror fans of the past decade (or so) was revealed to be a reality earlier this week!
I had this post almost ready to publish the other night, but then I hesitated.
Being so close to April 1st, and with so many opinions that this was a hoax, I decided to hold onto this post until we had an official confirmation. Today that confirmation came with a brand new trailer!
That’s right, Phantasm 5 has secretly been in production, is completely filmed, and will be on a screen near you very soon!
The poster above asked more questions than it answered when it appeared online Monday, but today a little more light was shed on the secretive production.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Phantasm: Ravager is directed by filmmaker and artist David Hartman, whose résumé includes the TV show Transformers Prime and the Rob Zombie videos American Witch and Lords of Salem. Hartman also worked on the films Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies at the End, both of which were directed by Phantasm overlord Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli himself cowrote Phantasm: Ravager with Hartman and produced it through his Silver Spheres company with executive producer Brad Baruh.
The cast of Phantasm: Ravager includes Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister, who have played, respectively, the Tall Man and luckless ice cream vendor Reggie in each previous film. They are joined by Michael Baldwin, who played the character Mike in each franchise entry except for Phantasm II (in which, aside from some flashback scenes, he was played by James LeGros). “We were fortunate to shoot amazing new sequences with horror icon Angus Scrimm,” said Hartman. “He has terrific scenes with Reggie and Mike that are truly powerful.” Series regulars Bill Thornbury and Kat Lester also appear in the film, whose release date has yet to be announced.
Phantasm: Ravager was shot in and around southern California over the past two years. “The Phantasm films have been a guerrilla operation for decades now, totally outside of the studio system,” Coscarelli said. “We do them for the fans, and I think Ravager will definitely please them. In the past few years several studios have made offers to remake Phantasm with large budgets, but the fans were very vocal that they wanted the original cast to return and finish this iteration of the story with class.”
Very few plot details have been released – but according to Coscarelli, Phantasm: Ravager includes “an extended sequence on the Tall Man’s home world.” Plus? “There are also some surprises thrown in that I promise will astonish long-time fans.”
We will have more details as we know them.
Who else is excited for this one?
Lord Of Tears is a love letter to the Hammer horror films and Lovecraftian literature of the last millennium. An artful and atmospheric filmed nightmare, it draws from all of its influences to become a unique piece of film that will not soon be forgotten.
The first feature film from director Lawrie Brewster, he claims the film to be “no mere attempt to entertain”, rather an attempt to create his own mythology of old monsters and vengeful ghosts. Using the mythos of Lovecraft as a foundation, Mr. Brewster and the film’s writer Sarah Daly have created their own hidden world, with its own set of rules.
The film tells the story of James, who has inherited a large lonely estate in the highlands of Scotland from his recently deceased estranged mother. She has also left him a letter strictly forbidding him to return to the old house, cryptically reminding him of suppressed childhood memories of monsters and loss.
A feisty little hobbit of a man, James decides he must return to the estate to try and remember what happened to him as a child. All along the way he is plagued by nightmares and quick-cut visions, creepy images barely glimpsed in passing.
The film is shot gorgeously, and the utter solitude of the historic estate is illustrated beautifully. Lingering looks at snow-covered mountains and gnarled old trees are cut in with extreme close-ups of web-spinning spiders and crawling worms, giving a genuine sense of unease.
Upon his return, he meets Evie, a beautiful young lady who claims to live in the converted stables next door. She is motherly and kind to James, and a romance brews between them as he slowly learns more about his new home and himself. Dancer Lexi Hulme, who steals the show as Evie, is classically beautiful and has a unique grace that is put to great use as the narrative progresses.
James himself is clearly haunted, and it becomes increasingly obvious that the old house contains some ghosts as well. He repeatedly sees visions of a lurking form, an unsettling figure dressed like a Victorian gentleman but with the head of an Owl, and elongated limbs with sharp claws.
The duo unravel the mystery surrounding the figure, and through research and luck, learn the story of Morloch, an ancient God of sacrifice. A mysterious key to a secret pagan shrine, a collection of bible verses, and his repeated visions lead them to find out more about the origins and motivations of the creepy Owlman.
I am the immortal owl The foul eye of oblivion I am the almighty misanthrope, The rope that tightens with the ticking of the clock. I am the absolute and infinite blackness at the end of the tunnel. I am the inevitable end of all things.
The film slow-burns it’s way through the middle third, building to a creepy and intense climax tying all the threads together for one of the bleakest endings in recent memory.
Explaining the mythology it created, and even answering a question the viewer probably didn’t know the film was asking, the whole thing is wrapped up in a very creepy sequence and a dark coda.
A fine first film, all the way around. One that succeeds (and exceeds) in everything it set out to accomplish with a grand and artistic flourish.
We will be very much looking forward to future work from director Lawrie Brewster, and interested to see if he decides to expand on this new mythology, or create a new one for us to enjoy!
Check out the trailer for the film below, and stay in the know about it on Facebook.
The film is available for purchase directly from the filmmakers here.
I should take a moment and talk about the packaging.
In this time of digital downloads and constant streaming, it is sometimes hard to remember the joy of opening the well-designed packaging of a film to add to your collection. The DVD version of the film is presented with not only a wide assortment of special features on the disc(s), but a beautiful slipcase decorated with gothic art, and a booklet further expanding the mythology of the story.
It was also hand-wrapped in black tissue paper, and affixed with a single owl feather. Get your copy here, signed by the writer and director.