Open Up Your Mind to EVIL! “Conjuring the Beyond” reviewed! (DVD / Breaking Glass Pictures)

“Conjuring the Beyond” on DVD at Amazon.com!

Divorced and left to wallow in her own self-pity, Wanda Fulcia moves into her brother and wife’s house but her inability to secure a job and act responsible has proved difficult with her hosts as she continues to ask for favors, such as borrowing her brother’s car to drive to a paid sleep study in the middle of a nearly deserted small town.  Dr. Pretorious, the head clinician of the study, seeks to hypnotize his four, sleep paralysis unaffected, participants to open their portion of the brain to produce night terrors and sleepwalking in order to treat the condition.  What the participants are really opened to is a nightmare state of being paralyzed while aware of an old, animalistic hag surveying them as they lie powerless to move.  At dawn, they all convey recalling the same dream and realize one of them is missing.  The recorded video shows the missing participant sleepwalking from his room without a trace of where they’ve gone.  The next night, the ordeal repeats itself and another member of their party goes missing.  Wanda and those left must uncover the mystery behind their night terrors before they back to sleep again. 

Borrowing from the tall story superstitions that sleep paralysis was the work of demons while also plucking ideas from Stuart Gordon’s perceptually other-dimensional horror film, “From Beyond” and James Wan’s spirit-investigating “The Conjuring,” Calvin Morie McCarthy writes and directs his own unofficial, unauthorized, and unsanctioned sublevel spinoff with “Conjuring the Beyond.” The Vancouver, Washington born 30-year-old filmmaker has been through his fair share of direct-to-video horror refuse, even etching himself into the running joke of “Amityville” titled cheapies with his entry “The Amityville Poltergeist” that has garnered a general public rating of 2.2 on IMDB.com. That low score doesn’t tarnish our objective goal to look at “Conjuring the Beyond” impartially without the blatant cash-in title affecting our sound judgement because, trust me, we’ve seen our lion’s share of reused, reworked, and rehashed titles. The film marks the first 2022 release for McCarthy and is produced by Chad Buffet of the Renton, Washington based special effects and props company, Raptor FX Studio, along with Joe Dietrich’s co-created company 7th Street Productions with McCarthy and Richard Wolff of Breaking Glass Pictures who distributes the film with an at-home release.

At the heart of the story is Wanda Fulcia played by Victoria Grace Borrello in her feature film debut. The Loyola University graduate of the arts, Borrello offers a new face and a serious craft performance toward a recently divorced person who has become lost in themselves. Wanda’s written to be entrenched into any kind situation that befalls her whether be with her own troubles of self-discovery or the beleaguering troubles of a cerebral doorway opened to let a malevolent entity into her subconscious. Who opened that mental gateway is the potentially guileful psyche-physician, Dr. Richard Pretorious. Pretorious, as all horror fans know, is a homage to “From Beyond’s” Dr. Edward Pretorious, the main antagonist who used a machine called The Resonator to expand a person’s mind into other dimensions. “Mutant Vampire from the Planet Neptune’s” Steve Larkin certainly does not portray the diabolism in her version of a Pretorious Doctor but there is this underlining itch that can’t exactly be scratched regarding the character’s true intentions. This unfinished business happens between both Wanda Fulcia and Dr. Richard Pretorious and that takes away from completing well-rounded characters who never see themselves cross that arc finish line. Essentially, both are stuck in a disappointing stasis of unfulfillment, and their morals and their emotional baggage are carelessly left to the wind. I found the secondary principals more impressive and a little more understandable with tidbits of themselves being dropped like breadcrumbs through the variable time on screen. Cocky boxer Porter (Jon Meggison, “The Haunting of Ravenwood”), a tarot card floozie Margo (Jax Kellington, “Cross Hollow”), and midwestern drunkard Theo (Tim Coyle, “I Need You Dead!”) are the other three participants of the sleep study and each provide a unique image that continues to keep us interested and where they possible might end up retired on the runtime scale. Neil Green, Erik Skybak, and Chynna Rae Shurts as the skulking Sleep Demon.

With an amusing banter of well-written dialogue, a passable night terror demoness, and a nodding homage or two to a couple of horror powerhouse films, “Conjuring the Beyond” has scrappy potential to be something a touch more than just a capitalizer of better and already completed novel ideas. “Conjuring the Beyond” ends like an unfinished thought that asks more questions than provides answers in its thematic night terror framework. Shurts’ Sleep Demon is sorely underused and mostly not present to be invoking scares from the feature. Shurts is cladded on a budget but well adequate to eerie up the antagonist enough with fake long nails, fake gnarly teeth, and a dark shawl or robe attire that slinks and creeps in-and-out of alert sleep paralysis patients. McCarthy also dives into another theme of shared experiences or mutual dreams that then send a shiver of petrifying terror zipping through a collective’s inner being. More precisely in that theme is one’s person’s affliction affects or infects the surrounding others; we also see this at the beginning with a Wanda’s brother Nick and his wife negatively feeling Wanda’s ability to rebound from an ugly divorce. However, not all scenes make complete sense. The prologue of a man trembling in his bed and watching the Sleep Demon slither into his room before snatching him from his bed is detached from the trunk of the story much like a dead branch lying next to not it’s tree provenance. Yes, the branch part of a tree, just not this tree. Other aspects of the film also don’t make much sense or lack explanation is the participants who disappear reappear as sleep walking zombies under the control, possession, or will of the Sleep Demon and to what purpose is far from being seen.

“Conjuring the Beyond” evokes images of demons and terror onto a DVD home video from the Philadelphia based, provocative independent film distributor Breaking Glass Pictures.  The MPEG-4 encoded DVD5 is a NTSC, region 1, unrated U.S. release presented in a CinemaScope widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  The lossy codec compression appears to sustain a relatively good picture throughout the 90-minute runtime with little-to-no banding or issues and toned-down artifacts concentrated more so around darker scenes around the delineation of objects in the background. Noticeable post-production issues don’t go unnoticed when the visual effect of compositing CCTV footage on a computer screen was left undone and so there is a scene where the sleep study participants and Dr. Pretorious are huddled around a laptop staring at a blank, black screen while providing commentary on the disappearance of a fellow member of their group. The lossy English dual-channel stereo mix offers a mediocre, yet still strongly inclusive, audio output that has slight issues maintaining consistent decibel levels at times. Dialogue can sound muted at times or distant and then suddenly be more robust in the same breath. English subtitles are available if opted. Depth and range work well with the fear atmospherics and environments. The release is feature only with only a static menu on the DVD that’s encased in a normal black snapper case with egregiously deceptive artwork of a woman floating above her bed; no floating happens in the film. Perhaps less misrepresentative if titled something more original, “Conjuring the Beyond” holds tightly to the coattails of other iconic horror films but tweaks the story just enough to tease a fresh take toward the unharnessed and terrifying dimensions stemmed by the power of the mind.

“Conjuring the Beyond” on DVD at Amazon.com!

Mar and Scar is EVIL’s Sullied Handiwork and is Also Its Undoing! “Hanger” reviewed (Blu-ray / Unearthed Films)

Pimp Leroy likes money.  He likes money so much he stop anything and anyone from coming in between him and cold hard cash.  When Rose, his star prostitute, becomes knocked up and she carries the baby into the later terms, Leroy sees that baby as just another obstacle keeping him from dollar signs and performs a back alley abortion on Rose that results in her death and the newborn mauled by the close hanger used to pull him out.   Fast forward 18 years later, the disfigured boy Hanger, named after tool used to extract him from the womb, falls under the wing of his supposed father, one of Rose’s more admirer, only known as The John, and together they seek revenge for Rose.  In the meantime, Hanger is secured a job at the local recycling center where he is befriend by fellow outcast Russell and as The John ignites war against Leroy that spills into every prostituted infested corner of the streets and into the recycler center.

First off…Man, do I miss Ryan Nicholson.  Secondly, “Hanger” is one of the most depraved films I’ve seen in a long time.  Probably the most depraved amongst the credits of the “Gutterballs” and “Collar” writer-director who has left his mark on the sometimes bland indie horror scene with the craziest content that has become the epitomizing taste of Unearthed Films.  Nicholson cowrote the vulgar comedy-exploitation with Patrick Coble in their second feature story collaboration following their 2004 work on the Nicholson brutal rape-and-revenge directed tale “Torched.”  Rape and revenge, plus a whole lot of sleazy, scuzzy, and sordidness, doesn’t buck the Canadian filmmaker into doing something more political correct as the auteur is too well versed into capturing the base layer muck under his Plotdigger Films production banner in Vancouver, British Columbia  “Hanger” is financially produced by Nicholson and Coble and along with Wolfgang Hinz, Stephanie Jennings, and Michelle Grady.

Needing no stamp of approval, “Hanger” would not have been as unpleasantly intoxicating if it wasn’t for the cast.  Each and every character beneath “Dick Tracy”-like prosthetics come to life with their own identifiable quirks and putrid personalities with perhaps the headliner in the tamest role being played by genre icon and scream queen Debbie Rochon (“Tromeo and Juliet,” “Model Hunger”).  Troma’s most famous gal isn’t the only Troma-head to be in Nicholson’s film with a guest appearance by Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman as Melvina the Tranny who has her willy kissed the stove-top burner.  I know what you’re thinking – Rochon and Kaufman is in anything is a must-see film!  I couldn’t agree more, but “Hanger” really lives and breathes on the more prosthetic-heavy performances of Nathan Dashwood, Wade Gibb, Dan Ellis, and, especially, Alastair Gamble as Phil.  Also known as Philthy, Phil is also a recycler on the look out for unemptied beer bottles for any kind of alcohol fix he can get his filthy hands on and Gamble really develops the ins-and-outs of the character’s mannerism and style and the “Gutterballs” actor does the role so well that Phil will forever be imprinted into your cerebral character catalogue for the rest of time.  I also couldn’t get enough of Wade Gibb’s Russell who gives the ethnic Chinese man a high-pitched voice and an insatiable hankering for porn and bad jokes.  Russel also has a penchant for trashed picked used tampons the administrative secretary at his job bins when she’s cycling through and after her late night self-pleasures, Russell can’t help but to blather on and on about her to his new friend Hanger, play with domicile explosiveness like TNT by “They Came From the Attic’s” Nathan Dashwood.  Candice Le (who is an uncanny Laura Prepon lookalike), Nadia Grey, Stephanie Walker, Rochelle Lynn-Jones, Susan Arum, Michelle Grady, and Dan Ellis who stars as Rose’s revenger-advocate, The John.

Ryan Nicholson passed away come two years ago come October due to brain cancer. From that condemned mind came some of the most vividly depraved characters, gratuitous gravities, and sweet, lip-smacking gore that just rolls into the place. “Hanger” is no exception; in fact, “Hanger” is probably Nicholson’s magnum opus considering all of the aforementioned descriptors. Obviously, pleasantries is not in Nicholson’s vocabulary with a storyboard progression rock hard on revenge, sex, and a recycling center full of a variety of perversions. Nicholson had a knack for obtaining real locations without having to build sets, one of his more cost-efficiency attributes to appreciate, and the recycling center where Russel, Hanger, and Phil worked was an actual true business, but the way Nicholson shoots the scenes, and with the other exteriors, is masterful in only allowing the audience to see what he wants you to see. Background details are tenebrously obscured as he highlights the basic necessities to convey what to focus on in relation to the characters. These characters are terribly invasive to the point where you can almost smell how they look and the need for a shower after some of their atrocities is well justified as this fetish theme of unsolicited bodily insertions goes over and beyond the borders of comfort. I still can’t get Alastair Gamble’s Phil out of my head. Rubber dicks, fart jokes, racist obscenities, trannies, voyeurism, masturbations, mutilation -“Hanger” has a lot of sin to be unapologetic for as it reeks lowlife war to the max. If desiring a little extra something-something, the Unearthed Films release comes complete with a second version of the film, XXX-rated cut, that’s not available on previous North American releases, such as with Vicious Circle unrated release. Where “Hanger” stumbles is with the narrative that divides like a cell into two rather different narratives after the initial coat hanger botched abortion. Though The John talks a good game and amps Hanger up for vengeance, the ex-military prostitute connoisseur goes for Leroy alone while Hanger and Russell burgeon their unusual friendship with trash-picking tampon diving and just hanging out. With the narrative more so focused on the latter, don’t expect “Hanger” to be round-the-clock carnage from start to finish.

Continuing their distribution of all Nicholson’s Plotdigger Films, Inc. catalogue, Unearthed Films 2-disc collector’s edition Blu-ray of “Hanger” is a must own and a must see for any fans of Unearthed Films’ gory longstanding pedigree and of Ryan Nicholson.  A warning about ghosting and compression artefacts precedes the film that is presented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, informing views of the unstable picture quality due to the nature of the recording equipment, but for the most part, the worst ghosting and compression issues are in the first scenes of the motel with Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman.  The controlled contrasting, comprised of limited lighting, a reduction in color, and perfect shadow placement, adds another flavor to “Hanger’s” squalid and vulgar character exteriors by accenting scenes with a post-apocalypse or slum living discomfort.  Details can get a very graphic, explicit, and fleshy as prosthetic organs ride that ambiguous seesaw and the prosthetics overall are extremely unique and memorable under the creative eye of Life to Death FX artist Michelle Grady.  The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix has ample fidelity despite the self-manipulation of voices and appropriations of cultural accents.  Dialogue is clean and prominently lucid.  Personally, the soundtrack is not particularly my favorite of a compilation of heavy rock and hardcore bands, such as Bison, Nomeansno, Spread Eagle, and Grass City and The Invasives, but do fit right into Nicholson’s scheme and personality.  The 2-disc set comes jampacked with over 16-hours of extras including a commentary with director Ryan Nicholson, Behind the Stoma:  The Making and Taking of Hanger with cast and crew interviews, a video diary-esque of Lloyd Kaufman’s single-day shoot entitled Enough Dope to Hang Yourself With:  On the Set with Lloyd Kaufman, a blooper reel, deleted and additional scenes, photo galley, Debbie “Rose” Rochon’s simulated sex tape “Black on White Bred” with pimp Ronald Patrick “Leroy” Thompson, the Colostomy Bag Edition aka the XXX-rated version of the film, trailer, and a second disc that’s nothing but outtakes.  The scene in the Colostomy Bag Edition, I believe, is just a minor penetrating cut-in scene more than likely not related to any of the actresses in the cast.  The Unearthed Films release is not rated and clocks in at 90 minutes (regular edition) and 91 minutes (Colostomy Bag Edition). The characters alone are worth “Hanger’s” price of admission but Unearthed Films delivers a sweet, comprehensive 2-disc collector’s set for this gore-soaked and grotesque little film.

A Must Own 2-Disc Collector’s Edition of Ryan Nicholson’s “Hanger” Available at Amazon

To EVIL, Just Another Slab of Meat for the Butchering. “The Slaughterhouse Killer” reviewed! (Breaking Glass Pictures / Digital Screener)



The local swine slaughterhouse perfectly suits the solitude of Box, barely sating the fervent urge of his killer spirit, but when a young ex-con, Nathan, who is trying to walk the straighten arrow with his girlfriend, falls under Box’s wing at work, keeping that urge at bay is proving more difficult with a likeminded companion.  When the workplace bully pushes Nathan too far, Box orchestrates a killer opportunity to murder the bully in his own home as a gift to the young parolee.  The death of their intimidating colleague solidifies an unique relationship between the men, opening Pandora’s box in their small town where no one is safe from their lust for blood.  As the bodies pile up and their corpses are ground up into chuck at the slaughterhouse, their relationship is tested when a child becomes the unintended next victim, severing the unspoken principles of their bond. 

“The Slaughterhouse Killer” is director Sam Curtain’s entry into the minds of bloodlust wolves living in sheepskin day-to-day amongst the clueless flock.  The senseless violence-laden thriller out of Tasmania, Australia is the sophomore feature from the “Blood Hunt” writer-director and is co-written with Benjamin Clarke.  The pair harness their continued onslaught for aggression from “Blood Hunt’s” human race cruelty with a rumbling storm brewing, waiting, for the right conditions when two very different people find a common interest by setting a little part of their world on fire.  The indie picture is streamlined through Curtain’s Stud Ranch Films entertainment banner and is backed by Black Mandala, a big and upcoming label showcasing an expertise in extreme low-cost horror, under the producer’s eye of Nicholas Onetti who has supported a number of genre fan favorites under his banner such as “The Barn,” “Aquaslash” and has even collaborated with brother, Luciano, on the 70’s giallo inspired  “Abrakadabra” and “Francesca.”  If Onetti is attached, prepare yourself for merciless and bloody circumstances in this particular ozploitation maniac thriller. 

You obviously can’t shoot a film titled “The Slaughterhouse Killer” without the slaughterhouse setting garnished with meathook strung up and process gutted livestock much in the same way the killer can’t fall into the average-looking joe category.  In steps Craig Ingham, a Sydney born 6’4” big fella with distinct facial features that includes a gleaming bald head and an angry sneer delineating fiercely from his bulbous, pink-as-a-pig cheeked face.  Ingham has an uncompromising maniacal approach of being large and in charge under a lame façade of a daft abattoir employee.  To balance out the oversized archetype antagonist, usually from one that lumbers around in slashers genre circles, hacking away at sex-crazed teens, James Mason buoys “The Slaughterhouse Killer” from capsizing in that humdrum trope of tasteless, flat water by adding a pretty face to the madness that is equally as ugly on the inside in character in what becomes the Laurel and Hardy of exploitation horror.  However, there’s nothing remotely funny about the performances of two men becoming unlikely best buds, drinking beer, and making hamburger out of the sheila from next door, but they do act like a pair of chuckleheads searching for motivation with their roles and instead come up empty handed in the arbitrary of Curtain and Clarke’s headway halting story.   “The Slaughterhouse Killer” is simply a two man show that aims to cycle through their unusual connection with Kristen Condon (“Sheborg”) as Nathan’s girlfriend, Tracey, and Dean Kirkright (“Cult Girls”) as the unfortunate workplace bully rounding out the small cast of collateral damage characters.

One of the biggest problems with “The Slaughterhouse Killer,” a tale that’s supposed to be driven by the characters’ dysfunctional ties to society and their knack for violence, is that very lack of purpose Box and Nathan get out from the random bloodlust.  Nathan, on parole for we don’t know what, easily falls bewitched by Box’s gore giddiness and willingness to let Nathan into his little big secret.  Without Nathan’s incarcerated backstory, a sentence served that proved nothing but his ability to still land a job, doesn’t age well as the film progresses and just seems to be there in a glint of development substance that never circles back.  Box falls onto the same static line of where the hell is his arc heading as the film opens with Box resting sweaty in his whitey-tighty inside his ramshackled shack.  There’s not much too Box’s creepy disposition other than keeping his squinty eyes glued to a rather attractive woman’s behind and taking abusive orders from the abattoir boss, but what he sees in his new guy to take him on a journey of bloodletting is something of a mystery that never pans out.  Even Box’s bound and blinded plaything in a padlock trunk transcends every act met, creating a glass ceiling of knowledge to the inner workings of his warped thinker.  Box and Nathan’s nihilism and madness unleashed is the purest part of Curtain’s film as the sensation is like a fat kid in a candy store where the two men can just go to town by butchering the residents of their own town by any means seen fit to them, but in the grand scheme of cinema, there are far superior violent films to consider.

As if it was destined to be, “The Slaughterhouse Killer” finds friendship with a kindred, malignant soul to carry out dark fantasies and Breaking Glass Pictures brings us this tale of two treacherous serial killers onto VOD and DVD this month of April. Digital platforms will include Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Fandango, and more. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ration, and recorded in 4K, cinematographer Leuke Marriott rejoins Curtain on the director’s second feature, providing 78 minutes worth of intimate imagery invasive on Box’s grimy lifestyle and Nathan’s furrowed brow by corralling much of the action directly in front of the camera. Marriott might not employ novel angles and techniques but makes up with holding tight and fast on the brutality and the meatgrinder of Box and Nathan’s vile run while also supplying a few bold filters, such as a rich blue and a light yellow, in more unsettlingly taut moments and capturing some of Tasmania’s landscape with aerial drone shots of Arthur’s Lake with the trees seemingly floating up out of the tenebrous water. “The Slaughterhouse Killer” has the title of a 80’s printed VHS SOV and leverages the ogre villain to the max, but can’t muster a rooted sense of purpose, not even a simple reason such as pure, unadulterated evil, to drive a span of violent behavior to be a worthwhile token to the viewer.

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Nab’em, Chop’em, and Feed’em to the EVIL Ox! “Butchers” reviewed! (Breaking Glass Pictures / Digital Screener)

After the death of their firm handed, elderly mother, brothers Owen and Oswald Watson remain isolated in the boondocks, off the beaten path to nowhere, to live in their rundown family home, like the generations before them, to do the one thing they desire and born to do – abduct stranded motorists, kill the men, and imprison away the women for their sadistic and misogynistic pleasures.  After breaking down passing through on a rural bypass, four young friends find themselves fighting for their very lives against a pair of siblings with a deep rooted heritage of experienced violence to show for it, but when one of the brothers starts to become even more unhinged than normal, the remaining survivors seek to take advantage of the situation to escape, but their captors know the woods inside and out.

Everyone believes Canadians are overly nice and well-mannered.  Our considerate neighbors of the North withstand the plethora of static noise from the turbulent South, willing to forget and forgive in a moments notice with nothing more than a smile and slap across the back, but has anyone ever bare witness to Adrian Langley’s dog-gonna-hunt, exploitation film, “Butchers,” hailing from Ottawa, Ontario?  The 2020 survival horror thriller displays the unseen dark side of Canadian’s grinning and friendly façade and, boy, does it familiarize and rival some of the similar backwoods doggedness we’ve seen in the last quarter century.  The film is written and directed by Langley and co-written with Daniel Weissenberger (“Come True”) in the intent of being a gritty, hillbilly-gone-wild hoedown with butcher blade sharpness.  Langley’s cinematic shiplap usually provides hard to swallow and violent themed content set to put one on tenterhooks established from his string of unflinching crime dramas (“A Violent State,” “Crook”) when the director is not moonlighting as a made-for-television PG-rated filmmaker for the holidays (“Candy Cane Christmas,” “Homemade Christmas”).  Christmas is long gone and a long way off and no amount of jovial spirit can guarantee a happy ending in “Butchers,” a production of Langley’s Unit XIX Films and Nicolás Onetti, producer and filmmaker behind retro-manufactured giallo horror “Abrakadabra” and “Francesca,” attached under his production banner, Black Mandala.” 

Principal characters are essentially the entire cast, small in size but pack a punch with their performances.  Starting off with the brothers, Owen and Oswald Watson, whose story begins during the snow and icy-filled heart of the winter months with them standing graveside, freshly filled with the remains of their mother, well before the hapless four protagonists breakdown in the summer’s heat.  The Watson boys story arc from second fiddle to top brass in a brief moment of background with the death of their mother as they quickly set to work pouncing on a young couple and exploiting the chained up and captive wife/girlfriend for carnal pleasure while abiding by a certain set of harshly punishable rules.  Television’s “Age of the Living Dead’s” Simon Phillips and Michael Swatton reteam in their respective roles of Owen and Oswald who are very much human characters with carefully planned and executed uncontrollable urges, callous whims, and fallible actions, sullied by a mixture of mental disease and rotten nurturing.  Philips is terrifying as in the intellectual brother, with his sophisticated word hole, very willing to get his hands dirty as the more perverse of the two brothers, but his relationship is on the rocks with his unstable brother, Oswald, as Swatton channels the internal family quibbling mindset of Leatherface from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise with the exception of the crossdressing obsession and the iconic, rip-roaring chainsaw.  Oswald instead wields a custom butcher’s knife with jagged shark life teeth as he manically runs through the forest hunting down the four youngsters played by Julie Mainville (“Ghastlies”), James Gerald Hicks (“Killer Mom”), and “The Nights Before Christmas’s Anne-Carolyne Binette and Frederik Storm.  With these lambs for the slaughter characters, this is where Adrian Langley succumbs to tropes that instill a misplaced sense of courage, uncontrollable and shallow horniness, and a turmoil amongst friends to be the divisive factor leading of their fate.  “Butchers” rounds out the cast with Jonathan Largy, Samantha De Benedet, Blake Canning, and Nick Allan as uncle Willard. 

“Butchers” does have blatant derivative bones underneath a body that echoes the frameworks of pioneered films from the aforementioned “Texas Chains Massacre” to more recently “Wrong Turn,” the original film series formed in 2003 about inbred, cannibalistic mountain people.  These powerhouse of unpretentious and bloodthirsty franchises inspired much of what you’ll experience in Langley’s homage of a cyclical subgenre; yet, the filmmaker’s tale of two brothers with a bloodletting scheme of their own doesn’t lend itself as being a hack work nor does the story render like an atrocious carbon copy but, rather, “Butchers” lives in a moment of simple, matter of fact craziness living in the dark corners of the seemingly innocuous world.  Owen paints a near perfect picture of the one in a million chance that people, like his hapless captives, fall into the position they’re in, sophisticatedly monologuing with intent to his bound prey in a pair of scenes that slice a thinly opened gap of possibility and that, right there, is scary.  “Butchers” builds no momentum, but, instead, goes right for the throat straight from the get-go as Langley reinforces the attitude that this can happen to anyone by not getting too familiar with characters in their backstories.  In order to establish a pattern of action and to lay foundations in who we should and shouldn’t root for when things go to hell, virtue-less unfaithfulness becomes a promising wedge that doesn’t necessarily cause descension in the ranks of survival, but paves a trope-laden path of who will ultimately perish.

Backcountry exploitation might have seem to have run it’s course. I mean, really, how many times can crazy deformed cannibals wreak gut-spilling havoc on the naïve outlanders to their idyllic provinces? For me, as many time as it damn well pleases, especially when fundamentally satisfying as Adrian Langley’s “Butchers,” distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures and now available streaming on Prime Video. “Butchers” will be available on DVD at a to be announced date. Langley, wearing multiple of hats in the spirit of indie productions, dons the director of photography bowler hat…well, I don’t really know what hat the DOP would wear, but we’ll represent the position with a bowler for now due to the deluxe sophistication the bowler implies while still sustaining a classic touch and that’s how I see Langley’s clean and competent cinematography style whose able to frame scenes that force audiences to be a part of the action . As soon as a character turns to speak to another character or when a car hood slams, an effective rush of adrenaline courses through the veins when out of nowhere one of the brothers pop onto the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio presented screen. “Butchers” come with no bonus material after a 92 minute runtime, but a single scene lingers during the credits that, again, harps back to a certain dancing killing machine from the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” May not be an original concept, but “Butchers” can still castrate the soul with an exploitatively merciless family tree sowed with perversion and bloodlust.

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A Crush Can Be EVIL’s Best Instrument of Earth Devouring Destruction! “Day 13” reviewed! (Digital Screener / Breaking Glass Pictures)


Colton has grown up more quickly than he expected. His father has abandoned him, his younger sister, Rachel, and mother, he’s become responsible for the daily chores, and has taken over partial parental duties when comes to Rachel, especially when their mother escapes to a 16-day getaway to decompress. While overseeing his daily errands and sister-sitting duties, the old, vacant house across the street shows signs of life when a father and daughter move in. Curiosity gets the better of Colton as he snoops around the house and bumps into Heather, the reclusive daughter who he immediately takes a shine to, but when he witnesses peculiar activity from the father, Colton is convinced of ill-intentions toward his daughter. Colton and Heather scheme ways to prove his wickedness and the mysteries behind the old house and previous family disappearances, but when her father’s grasp grips tighter, Colton’s decides to take Heather’s safety to the next level even if he doesn’t know or understand exactly the occult dealings he’s charging himself into.

Debuting her first full-length feature film, “Day 13” is the upcoming occult horror film that has reckless teenager whims, satanic sacrificial rituals, cat delicacies, and an Earth conquering demon from director Jax Medel from a script penned by Dan Gannon and Walter Goldwalter. Distributed by the genre bending Breaking Glass Pictures, which will be released August 8, 2020 on Video on Demand, “Day 13” simmers vehemently with teenage romance coursing through ominous waters that exploded violently with an archaic doomsday-apocalypse of brimstone and hellfire. Shot in and around Beverly Hills, Burbank and other suburbanite locations of the greater Los Angeles area of California, “Day 13” gleams with a West Coast vibe that quickly clouds over darkly, casting an ominous sensation like a lurking, shark shape shadow gliding through surfer saturated beach waters throughout. “Day 13” is a production on KAPOW Entertainment, which is founded by Jax Medel along with Richard C. Brooks, giving the filmmaker complete omnipotent over her project.

Hot off the coattails of hit Amazon Prime (“Transparent”) and Netflix (“13 Reasons Why”) series, Alex MacNicoll expands his portfolio further in the feature film market beyond his roles in “The 5th Wave” and “The Last Rampage,” tackling the occult playing a high schooler. The then 18-year-old during production, MacNicoll just left the grades of 9 through 12, but has been an actor since the age of 14. “Day 13” marks his second time playing a character named Colton who has eerily the same personality traits as his “Transparent” Colton that exudes the nice kid persona. As Colton Fremont, MacNicoll has to grow up sooner than he should when his father skips out on the family, a fact that’s barely divulged of any detail. MacNicoll is sure footed in his portrayal of a young, dumb, but great kid, bored out of his mind with the best intentions at heart. When a father and daughter move into the neighborhood’s spook house next door under surreptitious conditions, Colton becomes that old idiom, the mice will play while the cat is away, as he begins to spy on his neighbors, become enthralled by the recluse daughter, Heather (Genevieve Hannelius), and begins to routinely break into her house to see if she is okay from her strange and strict father. The father, who all we know is her adoptive father and has those strict rules we mentioned, is played by “Karate Kid’s” very own Cobra Kai master, Michael Kove. Kove’s relatively hidden away from the camera, given the perception his character, Magnus Travold, is up to no good behind the drapes until he’s hunting for intruders with an axe through the creaky halls and staircases of his new home. The dynamic between Travold and Colton is non-existent and the dynamic between Travold and Heather also sparks little hesitation about the old man’s intentions, but we’re privy to his cloaked dealings of rite and Heather’s unexplained abdominal pangs and it’s as if Jax Medel is literally drawing a picture of a visual 2+2 for audiences who may not connect the dots, fabricating devil perversity for the sake of story structure. “Day 13” rounds out with a supporting cast that includes “Angel 4: Undercover’s” Darlene Vogel, Meyrick Murphy (“The Walking Dead”), and JT Palmer.

While Medel’s experience hovers around the realm of the short film, there’s immense growing pains in her transition into feature film for the young filmmaker. Style, story structure, perception of time, and character development bare the brunt of Medel’s inexperience. The style is ultimately the best out of the four talking points as it’s just a personal opinion and observation that points out the plain rudimentary look of the picture that isn’t establishing a personal touch or a voice of her own talents. Medel can piecemeal a film together, but without any substance to stand out amongst the fray. As for the story structure, it collapses on itself nearing the end of act 2. Colton is now seemingly obsessed rather than concerned with Heather, purchasing nearly $1000 (on who’s credit card and not have the bank ping it?) worth of video equipment to spy on her and her father. Heather, even though she’s aware of Colton’s spying, only embraces on baseless accusations toward her father which blurs the line on Colton and Heather’s bond. At this point is where the perception of time goes into hyperdrive that accelerates their young teenage coupling into a quizzical love for each other without so much of a courtship of any sort, Colton’s deranged obsession with the house and residents that structures more curious enigma barriers over the house itself rather than Heather, and the nights leading up to the twisted climatic finale that skips stirring up suspense with frantic bewilderment of the players wondering the house looking for one another. When Colton’s best friend, Michael, decides to help him spy on and infiltrate into the neighbors house without so much batting an eye, I think he was also caught up in Colton’s infectious mania because all Michael wants to do is go out on his boat and be with his girl.

Countdown the days until “Day 13” hits online video on demand retail shelves, such as Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, Vudu, Fandango & Vimeo, courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures. Since the screener was digital, video and audio technical specs will not be critiqued. A couple of things to point out about the inherent A/V aspects are important to note if deciding to stay in one Friday night to watch a scary movie. Though much of the film bares little effect of any kind and relies more on practical realism for the majority, when the visual effects by Mat Fuller (“ABCs of Death 2”) do come into the fold, they are slightly clunky, but by and large, not bad considering “Day 13’s” indie budget and are sorely underused when the full of demon apocalypse takes shape. The other takeaway from this review is about the odd ambient soundtrack as I wasn’t sure if I was watching Colton, Heather, and Travold in a house or on an 18th century mast ship. The house’s creaky hardwood floors sounded more like the swaying of a the Santa Maria pulling up into Plymouth Rock. There were no bonus material included with the digital screener nor were there any bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Day 13” has an intriguing premise of fraught young love topped with black magic, but, like the old superstitions of the number 13, Jax Medel’s debut fell upon bad luck, bad timing, and bad basics.