Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'Afflicted' (Movie Review)

Found-footage movies in a Red Box are like HPV on a college campus. They show up way more than you'd expect, and aren't very fun.

I took a chance reviewing Afflicted based on it winning some awards at a film festival I've never heard of and was too lazy to search for on Google. I went in with low expectations of paper thin plot devices and mediocre jump scares, butwas pleasantly surprised to find a decent movie that, while somewhat flawed, managed to avoid most of the pitfalls we've all come to expect from the tired first person fright fests.

It's usually the kiss of death when a person or team decide they are "triple threats" and write, direct and star in their own movie. Derek Lee and Clif Prowse (the aforementioned threats) do an admirable job of being at the helm while simultaneously portraying the lead characters. The plot revolves around two buddies who plan a whirlwind tour of Europe, to be broadcast live over the internet. That last part felt contrived and exacerbated the "found-footage movie" cliche, only because it was completely unneeded other than as a gimmick to hang plot points on. The big conflict is that Derek has a life threatening illness that might become a life threatening risk at any moment on their journey.

Things start off in typical buddy picture fashion with shots of site locales, and them meeting up with friends. Then everything goes south after Derek is torn up by Audrey, the sexy French girl who takes a shine to him at a bar in Paris. After the attack, Clif documents Derek's increasingly strange behavior as he seems to gain super powers a la those kids from Chronicle. He also films some really disturbing side effects which finally lead them to the delayed discovery that Derek is a VAMPIRE. Surprise! Afflicted is a found-footage vampire movie! So now we're in the classic American Werewolf in London conundrum, except Clif is alive and has an internet audience he can voice his worries to thanks to the gimmick I mentioned in the last paragraph. This leads to a lot of "he's a monster, but also my best friend" monologues that attempt to artificially build tension. What doesn't work about it is that they both KNOW Derek is a vampire, and Derek blatantly tells him "No hospitals, run, I'll rip your arms off" in so many words. Eventually the inevitable happens and it's the point where Afflicted flies off the rails a bit.

The focus shifts to a remorseful Derek, who decides his only recourse is finding Audrey and a cure for the curse that has befallen him. He also arbitrarily decides to continue filming the journey because it's what Clif "would have wanted", and of course if he didn't the movie would be over.
This leads to some cool fight scenes with the police and some great cinematography "from the monster's perspective" culminating in a final confrontation with Audrey. This is where the movie should have ended, but it didn't.

At an already brief 85 minute running time, Afflicted should have concluded in a concise and direct way, but instead what we get is pretty much what you see on a certain Showtime series and/or some kind of superhero movie. It's almost like Lee and Prowse weren't satisfied with a morose finale or a 79 minute project.

Script problems aside, Affliction is still an admirable attempt to drain just a bit more lifeblood from a sub-genre that has been sucked dry. If you're in the mood for some shaky camera work and more of those digital effects pioneered by Gatorade commercials, give it a shot.

Grade: B-
Reviewed via Red Box. Running time 85 MIN.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Terrortorial Expansion: 'Discopath'

I absolutely love retro throwback slasher flicks that draw from the 1970's and 1980's. So when I read this review of Discopath over on the Cinematic Shocks blog, I had something new sitting at the top of my watch list on Amazon Prime.

Discopath apparently capitalizes on the lurid sex appeal of the early 80's NYC club scene, while simultaneously defying the stereotype that Canadians are gentle and not serial killers. Combine that with KISS playing during a chase scene and you've piqued my interest. Go check out this great write up if disco music drives you crazy in all the wrong ways!

'Terrortorial Expansion' is a series of posts where Ben and Jeff highlight interesting content they enjoyed by others in the horror blogging community. It is also a play on words referencing historical government policies to make us sound smarter than we actually are.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'DANIEL' (Movie Review)

Here's a bite sized fear flick submitted for your approval!

Daniel is the latest short film from the minds at Dreamseekers Productions, and it packs an entire story into a pint sized package. Clocking in at only 3 minutes, it's all suspense and no filler.

So take a few minutes to watch it here and give us your feedback. I'm sure Peter and the gang at Dreamseekers would love to know what you think.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Terrortorial Expansion: 'Deliver Us From Evil'

If you've been on the fence about the new Eric Bana vehicle Deliver Us From Evil, then do yourself a favor and check out Shyla Fairfax's excellent review over on her blog Sinema Addiction.

She gives a great rundown on why the film works as more than a sum of its parts, and how a cop drama starring the Incredible Hulk manages to turn some tired ideas on their head and evolve into an effective horror movie.

Get reading!

'Terrortorial Expansion' is a series of posts where Ben and Jeff highlight interesting content they enjoyed by others in the horror blogging community. It is also a play on words referencing historical government policies to make us sound smarter than we actually are.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'Haven' (Book Review)

Haven is the second installment of the Breadwinner Trilogy of zombie novels by author Stevie Kopas. I was given a review copy to follow up on our review of the first book and I'm glad to report that it's a strong contender in all the ways a sequel should be.

Haven picks up right where The Breadwinner left off. Samson, Veronica, Andrew and the party are sea bound and moving toward the relative safety of the former beach paradise "Haven". They meet up with Gary, a lone survivor who is trying to reclaim the resort from the starving undead. Later, the story shifts focus onto another group of survivors. We're introduced to Michelle, Lulu, and Lulu's cousin Zack. Their story will find them trying to escape Haven as their world comes crashing down at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

Where this sequel finds strength is interplay of its story arcs. While the set pieces of a shopping mall might be reminiscent of Dawn of The Dead, Kopas puts her own spin on things and doesn't fall into many of the tropes we normally expect in the genre. Plenty of twists and turns emerge as the two groups paths begin to intertwine. There is also a stronger focus on character development without slowing down the pace in its short 169 pages. Certain players become more fleshed out, while others simply have their flesh ripped out. In a nod to The Walking Dead, it's a good idea for readers not to get too attached to any one person in this series.

Finally, like any sequel worth its salt, Haven introduces us to the series' core villain. While there have been others with questionable motives up to this point, we finally meet a true antagonist who has premeditated goals and designs. This ups the ante and creates a much needed second focal point of conflict besides the hordes of hungry "Eaters".

Like the first book, Haven is a very fast read that horror fans can finish in a long afternoon. It's action packed, filled with detailed descriptions of gore, and provides a strong foundation for the upcoming third book. I am personally looking forward to seeing where the author takes her trilogy in its finale. I strongly recommend it, especially to anyone with an Amazon Prime account to grab it on their Kindle.

Grade: A-
Reviewed (copy provided) on Kindle. 169 pages.