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Kill List (2011)
Astonishing piece of film-making - not a spoiler in sight
First off no spoilers at all. I read somewhere about avoiding reading anything about this movie before seeing it.
Man am I glad I did that. I was expecting it to be another slightly tired British gangster movie where everyone's pretending to be hard.
It's nothing of the kind. Instead it's one of the tensest movie-going experiences I have ever had.
The audience I was with seemed almost shaken at the end.
Yes it's violent. Brutally so. Some scenes I wanted to avert my gaze. They're so visceral.
But it's not just the brutality that's hard to take. Some of the interaction between the actors is painful to watch. Almost like you're a voyeur, witnessing something horribly unsavoury.
I'd never seen the main guy in anything before but he's absolutely mesmerising and I won't tell you any more about him as it will ruin the story.
I was trying to place the Irish actor - another great performance - and it was from the TV show Luther.
Anyway, enough blethering. Oh and I read one person saying because it was an indie movie it looked cheap.
Au contraire, on the big screen it looked sumptuous.
Little Deaths (2011)
Where did this little gem spring from?
I've always liked horror compendiums going back to the glory days of Vault of Horror or even Dr Terror's House of Horrors, so I snapped this up when I saw it.
I'd never heard of this before and presumed it was some low-budget American movie but it's actually British.
Unlike the aforementioned movies, there doesn't seem to be any connection between the three stories. Well other than that they are loaded with sex and gore.
People in posts I've read seem to dislike the first two stories.
The first is basically *spoilers I guess as I'm about to discuss the storyline* about a twisted posh couple who get their kicks drugging and abusing homeless girls.
The ending is pretty left-field but what made it for me was the nasty, aggressive wife.
The actress clearly relished the part and she was a joy to watch.
And I think that's a point I should make - the acting throughout is pretty impressive without exception. And that really is saying something.
Especially as the only guy I recognised was an actor in the second story, which is a genuinely bizarre tale, where it's never entirely clear what's going on. And I mean that in a positive way - it's genuinely unsettling.
The third tale - Bitch - has dark s and m-y themes running through it - come to think of it all three tales have people being tied up.
Anyway, don't want to give anything else away.
Check this out - it's an undiscovered treat.
Seconds Apart (2011)
Gloriously gory fun
Where did this great little movie pop up from - I'd never heard of it or its two main twin stars.
Whatever, it's a great little horror film. The pre-credits opening sequence is genuinely disturbing and hooks you right away.
Gore-wise it's not a film with a constant flow of blood or rapidly rising body-count but when the violence comes, strewth, it's pretty disturbing.
A couple of great twists, too.
And cinematography isn't something I usually comment on but this really was beautifully shot.
One of the crispest looking movies I've seen in a while - at times it looked almost 3D.
Well worth checking out.
Grandma's House (2010)
This series is so spectacularly bad on almost - actually strike that - every level, it's almost worth watching just to soak up its sheer awfulness.
And I'm not just deliberately hating on it out of badness.
Simon Amstell - the real-life Simon Amstell - is a charismatic, likable, ferociously witty young man who manages to stay on the right side of smugness.
And Rebecca Front is one of my favourite comic actresses - glorious as a foil to Alan Partridge in the Knowing Me Knowing You days.
But, goodness, do they sink to the depths in Grandma's House.
I sometimes wonder during the process of making a show as execrable as this, why a friend or a colleague of the makers doesn't point out - politely - how bad it is.
Does no-one notice when they watch the rushes how painfully inept it is.
So what's so bad? Well, the acting for starters. For someone so effortlessly relaxed with pithy putdowns on Buzzcocks, Amstell is surprisingly uncomfortable in front of the cameras.
It's like watching a particularly stilted sixth former during am dram.
And, Jesus wept, the script. The second episode seems to have endless scenes of Amstell's character arguing with his aunt: "You shut up!"
"No, you shut up!"
That's not direct quotes but that's the gist of that 'plotline'.
It 'climaxes' in a scene where Amstell's mum and various family members act out a new play he has been working on about - sighs - talking eggs.
Can't bring myself to elaborate on that one.
In fact, I've whinged on enough about this.
Devoid of laughs, it's kind of worth catching in a cringeworthy sort of way.
The Shadow Within (2007)
A truly gifted child (especially at acting)
Surprisingly little has been written about this quirky little horror film, which I watched last night. It's intriguing on a number of levels: when it's set and where it's set for that matter I found to be bit ambiguous but oddly enough that wasn't to the film's detriment.
Because of the lack of information surrounding it, I presumed it would be some low-budget independent affair but The Shadow Within is anything but. The cinematography is wonderful and the town setting gloriously picturesque. The story tells of a nine-year-old boy who lives with his widowed mother. The youngster, Maurice Dumont - it has to be said, a remarkable performance by Laurence Belcher effortlessly out-classing the adult stars of the film - has a unique gift. Well, not exactly unique in movie terms - Haley Joel Osment had it in The Sixth Sense. But Maurice's gift is slightly more specific in that he is able to communicate with the spirits of his deceased school chums - many of whom have been killed by the plague wiping out the village's young.
The bereaved mothers of the village realise Maurice has a gift and want to harness that power so they can contact their lost loved ones. But Maurice and his mother have also suffered terrible losses and now she realises she could turn to her son's gift to be reunited with someone she has been obsessing over. All at a cost to young Maurice who has endured a cold loveless childhood at the hands of his grieving mother. Plot-wise I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say this is definitely worth checking out. It looks sumptuous, there are some good creepy effects (one particular use of CGI to show the spirits shadowing the living is particularly effective) and as I said the youngster's doomed, haunted performance is flawless.
Cracking little British horror
I'm rather perplexed by the fact most of the reviews on here go on about the lack of budget, albeit in a positive way. Yes it's not exactly Avatar in terms of spending on effects etc but the cost isn't something that's terribly relevant with this movie. The limited setting - most of the action takes place in a cul de sac - adds to the claustrophobic feeling. And the gore when it comes has the claret flowing with gusto and looks pretty convincing.
I did struggle a couple of times to understand the dialogue - a combination of muffled voices and regional accents - and although on one occasion this seemed to be a pretty key piece of information, in all it was fine.
Definitely worth checking out and I shall be following the director's work with interest