Unorthodox exorcist and hobby writer Richard Vanuk lives a depressing and humble life full of endless booze and filthy altruism. Driven by the need for alcohol and an underline desire to help possessed strangers for a small fee, Vanuk barely maintains his own sustainability. With each challenging case of demonic inhabitance, the poor full time exorcist, and part time writer, expels demons from their misfortunate hosts into his own wretched soul, draining his self-respecting humanity out of him one demon-expulsion job at a time. The deeper Vanuk spirals downward into nihilism and the deeper he goes into severe debt, the choice to withdrawal from the toll of exorcising demons becomes no longer an option, but a fruitlessly fateful venture to just surviving in a world that’s scarce of good people.
My second undertaking into a Daniel Falicki horror film has the “Awaken The Devil” director batting a solid hundred percent on the ever honest critique block, going a strong two-for-two with his latest film, 2016’s “Accidental Exorcist,” that’s drenched with a despair atmosphere that swallows the intentionally pathetic character who is granted only a glimmer of unattainable hope for a good life. The writer-director has a keen eye for developing horror in various comedic, dramatic, and absurdly berserk formatted segments, delicately defining details to capture memorable moments. Falicki also stars as his own character, Richard Vanuk, and Falicki charms the audience by creating a likable anti-protagonist whose cavalier about demonic possessions and begrudged by a “corporate” employer who pays very little for the precision of demon banishment; this same company performs a stigmata on him after every exhausting job, discarding his limp, unconscious body in a different snow covered park afterwards.
Falicki drowns Vanuk in vices and addictions. Aside from the obvious alcohol and constant inebriation, Vanuk needs the pain of performing exorcisms as much as he loathes the process and the people who employs him. The character can’t reform, can’t function properly in normality, as witnessed when his successful brother offers Richard a once-in-a-lifetime position at his mundane company of pigmentation for sports equipment. When the exorcism well runs dry, Vanuk goes into full blown, borderline psychotic detox as he’s cut off from his, one and only, natural born skill and the ceasing of his per diem position sends him into frantically gulping down bottles of cold medicine to get a soothing fix. Falicki punishes the audience beloved, unconventional exorcist by having Vanuk fall to the bottom by not being unlucky or plotted against, but by simply self destruction and having God turn his back on his loyal servant when the promise, or a test, of a favorable outlook reveals itself.
The casting couldn’t be much more perfect with a cast of talented b-movie stars such as Jason Roth (“Awaken The Devil”), Chris Kotcher, and Jeffrey Goodrich to quickly name a few. Falicki owns Richard Vanuk, embodying the character so brilliantly that I would have a hard time relinquishing Richard Vanuk from Daniel Falicki’s face. Falicki pulls out all the stops by putting every once of degradation the director can muster into the downtrodden exorcist with a performance that sells his hapless nature and spew-filled gigs. Every client Vanuk attends to is portrayed honestly and earnestly from Sherryl Despress’s role of a desperate mother turned possessed super sewer to Patrick Hendren’s blind and levitating demonic being who goes on to have a heart-to-heart with Vanuk after an exorcism recovery.
“Accidental Exorcist” is unapologetic and shameless; a real nasty bitch to love unconditionally. The fun soars above the summit and the ingrained heart bursts beyond the restrictive seams of the reel. The film is nothing I’ve ever scene before; yet, still manages to homage legendary films that “Accidental Exorcist” built it’s bones upon. Similarities to, of course, the iconic William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” are apparent throughout with the almost beautifully grim and isolated atmospheric exterior scenes of foreboding destiny. Falicki’s film contains special effects so convincing by leaps and bounds when compared to other modern independent horror, portraying Vanuk so well within the confines of his dank and dejected existence that it’s as if he’s sharing his grime and his loneliness with us that’ll result with a quick shower when the credits roll.
Sector 5 Films and Rotomation Studios courtesy produces “Accidental Exorcist,” that’s not related to the Joshua Graham novel, but the audio and video will not be critically reviewed since I received and viewed a press screener and the film has yet to be released onto a home entertainment platform. However, make no mistake that “Accidental Exorcist” strides cockily into the first half of 2016 horror season, flying unnoticed, under the radar, as sleeper agent dangerous to demonic possession film competitors. Director Daniel Falicki is on the up and coming watch list like a high target terrorist, striking the heart of modern day horror and putting fear, and comedy, into a cynical cauldron.
Phone sex models broadcast their televised provocatively dressed bodies over the British airways while chatting with lonely customers. During their biggest broadcasting night, all the girls and crew become purposefully trapped in the sleazy studio, making the phone sex business a dead line. Disappearing one-by-one, each model falls viciously victim to a murderous psychopath who could by one of their most disturbed and perverted fans. With the power out and the studio on shambles, the survivors attempt to escape dead air by any means possible, even if that means coming face-to-face with their stalker.
The cast full of busty beautiful women enthralled to a murderer’s maniacal impulses sounds to be a bit of good horror movie fun untamed by the restrictive harnesses of big studio conventions. Director Dan Brownlie and his producing company Brand B Corporation develops “Serial Kaller” to be the limited budget archetype of the slasher films with an inkling into the very real world of broadcasting UK’s phone sex girls or better known as simply “babe shows.” Co-writer and star of “Serial Kaller” Dani Thompson once worked in the business, and appropriately proportionately so, that sparked the idea in her for a killer loose in the bare bones, deathtrap studio of a babe show. The diminutive budget project attached some B movie talent such as Suzi Lorraine and the iconic Debbie Rochon while rounding out the cast with top heavy talent in Jess Implazzi, Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace, Suzy Deakin, and Zoe Morrell.
With all the dazzling, easy-on-the-eyes women in the cast and a sweetly promised premise coinciding, “Serial Kaller” squirms itself onto the independent slasher scene with barely a thrill to offer and a death to deem applaudable. “Serial Kaller” stands out as much as pig in the middle of a stable of horses with mediocre kills, colorless dialogue, and disjointed concept that resembles more like an unfinished thought than a complete work. Brownlie’s and Thompson’s film subtly whispers similarities to, or homages to, that of the England’s 19th century prostitute murderer Jack the Ripper, with the start of an undefinable and causeless figure stalking sinfully innocent sex workers that happen to be, coincidentally, English. Yet, somehow that hint of respect becomes lost in translation; with a title like “Serial Kaller,” one might be under the impression that phones with have a significant role in the story, such as in Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas.” In reality, the phones are just, well, phones, while the story takes a rogue route that’s far from the intentions of the title, losing the motivations and the inspirations of a modern day Jack the Killer.
The correlation between the model’s baleful setup and the murderer circling nearby doesn’t jive to build successful suspense and when the moment finally comes to fruition where a model is about to bite the inevitable dust, there’s no jolt of anxiety toward the situation. The kill effects, consisting of minuscule budget practical and CGI effects, fail to heighten the murderous affairs. Probably the best kill scene in “Serial Kaller” is the electrocution through one of the babe show tech’s genitals, zapping up into the girl that’s unenthusiastically grinding his crotch with her clothes on and exploding out her eye balls. Zany death, but still kind of cool, right?
My good friends at Wild Eye Releasing brought “Serial Kaller” onto DVD, presenting the feature in a director driven retrofitted 4:3 full screen aspect ratio to give homage to once praised VHS nasties. Despite the slight lean toward a grindhouse appeal in the aspect ratio, the picture quality is clean, naturally toned, and detailed. The audio goes without hiss and is well balanced. Extra content includes director’s commentary, behind the scenes featurette, and trailers. The overall, “Serial Kaller” is the epitome of big concept packaged small and can’t quite muster a snowball effect to wrangle in the much needed thrill rush to go along with the scantily-cladded women, but Brownlie’s film redeems a little with Debbie Rochon phenomenal joker-esque performance that, unfortunately, has very little screen time.
Finally! Storage 24 is a sci-fi creature feature that lives and breathes to impress and to entertain! I hadn’t had this much fun with a monster movie since Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield back in theaters of 2008. Both works have a simple premise, a cast of favorable characters, and deadly results for them by a vicious, out of this world thing that just wants to rip anything and everything to shreds without reason. Of course, Storage 24’s smaller setting confines itself to a sole storage unit instead of the broad city landscape that is New York, but Storage 24 builds to be, and develops really well into, a bigger than expected movie.
A military plane crashes in the middle of London. The event seems small enough until the military quarantine the area. Exes Charlie and Shelley are trapped in their powerless storage unit facility during their clean out their belongings with the help of their friends. Lurking in the building with them is the contents that were on that military plane – an 9 foot alien with a killer instinct.
The alien portrayed had me thrilled with the movements and the special effects. The mandibles were a big plus with me as I am a huge Predator fanatic (Sorry Xenomorph fans, but Predator has the bugs beat!). The creature performs in almost stop motion which gave it a more unearthly feel and the way it mangled people lives up to a killer animal on the loose – think Ghost in the Darkness. Unlike Predator, the alien seemed to be more mobile and more crafty by being able to move and hide in the rafters of the storage facility. I know that sounds like an aspect of Predator, but this alien did more with ease and without being bulky about doing it. Less human and more alien – if we knew how aliens existed I’m sure Storage 24 captured the perceptual concept.
I love the films misdirection as you’re sucked into hating one set of characters and sympathizing with the other set during the first part of the film. Suddenly, just before the shit hits the extraterrestrial fan, you’re now rooting for the asshole and the slut who cheated. The laws of a horror movie are null and void at this point.
I’m not completely satisfied on why Storage 24 is being wrongly shunned on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes with both sites sporting around a meager 40% freshness. Perhaps the dorky comedy at the first half of the film is too blame? Maybe the dialogue tracks could have been louder and the actors could have their pronunciation cleaned up a bit? Who knows and who cares? All I can tell you about Storage 24 is how much fun I had and that’s what matters the most about b-movies, right? You can buy your copy of Storage 24 here!