Hellbent on being the first to discover something big between 1000-feet, talented marine biologist and ecologist, Olive Crown, constructs a convincing case in a video hiring application to test a deep sea diving suit invented by Dr. Fletcher, but a harrowing encounter with monstrous creature at 2500 feet nearly claims Olive’s life. Blamed for a botch dive and unable to remember the incident, Olive has been fired from her dream position, but when she double checks the dive suit for evidence of what might have happened, she discovers an alien substance, an egg-like object, attached to the outer layer and smuggles it home. The egg hatches to birth a blood thirsty, Cthulhu being that has marked Olive as in a symbiotic relationship as protector and mother. Olive senses everything the creature does, even it’s hunger, and caves in to her discovery’s need to feed with those who antagonize Olive and her creature baby, but at an alarming rate, the life form grows into a mammoth creature and Olive might be losing the perspective of who is really in control.
“The Creature Below” puts a spin on a popularly wild H.P. Lovecraft tale and adds a notch into the belt of the Cthulhu mythos. From director Stewart Sparke in his first feature film comes one woman’s tragically macabre endowment that runs amok through the uninteresting confines of her own life and obliterate it from within. Co-written by Paul Butler, the British Cthulhu feature, “The Creature Below,” melds together a very grand unearthly story into the restrictive walls of an unwanted love triangle Olive’s involved in while dipping toes into also being a pre-Romero zombie film with the automata slave. Though very modest in story and budget, “The Creature Below” is an itsy-bitsy speck in a bigger mythological genre and that’s usually the case for indie Cthulhu flicks, as they should be, because giving a little mystery to Lovecraft’s myth tends to build worlds later, sparks the imagination aflame, and leaves a lasting impression long after the movie is over.
Anna Dawson stars as Olive Crown, creature’s foster parent, and Dawson’s first impression of Olive emits a fierce, go-getter ecologist, looking to make a name for herself in the deep dive exploration field. That egotistical drive tapers off a bit once she’s canned for botched dive, delivering a more humble and reserved Olive Crown, but Dawson puts on the sunken-eyed, icy-cold skin that’s clammy and deadlike in order to fulfill the infant Cthulhu’s bidding. Daniel Thrace embraces the lovably sweet boyfriend, Matthew, whose sensible, charming, and overall nice guy. The pair are complete oil and water, a welcoming dynamic, when Olive’s rationality goes off track. Olive and Matthew are really the only two developed characters as, disappointingly, three considerable major characters don’t build too much of a reputation to warrant their value, especially with Olive’s sister, Ellie, played by Michaela Longden. There’s something more between Ellie and Matthew that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head and there’s also more to her staying with her sister, Olive, that the audience is not aware of and the scenes where Olive comments on her sister’s freeloading just loses all it’s credibility. The other two actors, roles awarded to Johnny Vivash and Zacharee Lee, are more involved in Olive’s deep sea dive and bring more of a well rounded antagonistic or betrayal personality to the table.
Sparke doesn’t linger too long on the creature, shielding it mostly behind a plastic tarp with a nude façade and that’s, perhaps, more in line with the micro budget constraints. In any case, Sparke focuses the story around Olive’s paranoia and obsession with the creature and with her boyfriend and the bitterness between him and her Sister, Ellie, seemingly toward Olive. Dave Walter has composed from start to finish a low and slow synth soundtrack, that’s familiar to a slowly anticipating heartbeat, and really heightens Olive’s spiraling paranoia similar to that of Ennio Morricone’s work on John Carpenter’s 1982 remake entitled “The Thing” where the eerily sounds of a personified isolation breaches every corner of your body, mind, and the dark room you’re in and all you can hear is that thump…thump…thump in a chest vibrating synchronicity of tones. While the soundtrack is riveting throughout, the story becomes a bit sluggish around the midsection in the sense that space and time don’t exists and Olive’s encounters with Dr. Fletcher, Dara, and various others, are halted to develop any kind of affluence amongst each other or with the audience. Even the ending, which I do adore on a certain level, bares the mark of being incomplete and devoid of substantiating that monolithic ending. There is some post-view satisfaction with the blend of practical and computer generated special effects and as I reflect on the film as a whole, to display a species from birth to adulthood, Sparke and his special effects team had amazing results that are fanned out well enough to leave a lasting impression of the unearthed creature’s visceral and intelligible girth.
Breaking Glass Pictures with Dark Rift Films in association with High Octane Pictures release “The Creature Below” onto DVD. The 16:9 widescreen presentation of this sci-fi horror thriller explores a sleek and clean, with a hint of being just a little hazy, picture that puts forth the appropriate dark grey and blue tone for an underwater or above water creature feature. The English Dolby 5.1 sound’s slightly muffled, but solid. Special features include a behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, “Rats” a short film, and a Frightfest Q&A. Stewart Sparke’s “The Creature Below” is not perfect and does have appalling, laughable moments, but underneath the surface is a UK film that’s budget-busting bold and aims to be a goliath in an indie market.
Ex-cons Victor (Tygo Gernandt) and Rico (Marwan Kenzari) kidnap a young woman named Laura (Sarah Chronis) in hopes to extort a four million dollar cash payout from her wealthy father. The two men are methodical, precise, and focused on their task, constructing a sound proof room, buying burner cell phones, and keeping one step ahead of their captive’s thoughts on escape. Keeping her tied to the bed in a vacant apartment, Victor and Rico don specific roles in their plan; Victor leaves the apartment to negotiate the ransom while Rico oversees their money making hostage. When Laura cleverly works on getting the upper hand on one of them, she discovers that there might be a secondary plan involving her willing participation and leaving the other ex-con high and dry without a payday. Victor and Rico hold a surprising secret amongst themselves as well, making this crime thriller a cat-and-mouse game between the three where tensions are high, trust is low, and the end game won’t be pretty.
The Netherlands thriller directed by Joram Lürsen seems to be the polar opposite from the director’s previous directorial work. The “Reckless” niche focuses on being tight and concise. The film only credits three actors: Tygo Gernandt, Marwan Kenzari, and Sarah Chronis. That’s it and there isn’t even a voice over from a phone call or anything else of the sort, forcing the actors to only work off each other instead of being able to pick and choose who to bank off their banters and abilities. Secondly, the majority of the setting is in this small apartment that has become Laura’s cell which becomes another tight spot, literally. Finally, the story focuses on minor details with strict guiding dialogue that pieces together the story’s outcome and doesn’t make the plot wander into oblivion.
The story, which is a remake of the 2009 British thriller “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” strives off being simplistic; a kidnapping for ransom gone awry. However, there lies a mid act twist that keeps the situation fresh where constantly guessing to the real intentions of the characters is more fun than actually watching the ploy play out. Tygo Gernandt perfectly fits into the shoes of Victor by portraying the role extremely well of a hardened and a rule rigorous ex-con. Marwan Kenzari as Victor’s accomplice Rico relieves the other half of the tension Tygo’s aura emits with his soft eyes and gentle appeal toward Laura, but Rico scrambles to keep Tygo under control and that creates nail biting scenes between the three actors. Sarah Chronis as Laura offers so much to the table being the golden nugget for Victor and Rico, being their ticket for a new life in another part of the world. Chronis conveys being naive, conniving, and afraid well and acts upon her forced nudity with proper accordance to the situation and also uses her nudity, seductively and convincingly, to plan her intended escape.
However, where “Reckless” strives on being a successful crime thriller, it’s also the film’s ultimate downfall and suffers sequentially from “Psycho” syndrome. Remember when Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” nearly shot for shot and critics condemned Van Sant’s film? The same situation happens upon “Reckless” where nearly every character quality has become a carbon copy from “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.” Yes, “Reckless” is a true to form remake and a good reproduction as well, but for the Lürsen film to stand out, to be something more, “Reckless” doesn’t break the established mold. Instead, the film relies on it’s actors to accomplish a more riveting appeal and that’s hard to do when Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, and Gemma Arterton already made a great first impression in the original.
The Artsploitation Films distributes “Reckless” in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio with super clear picture quality. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix clearly appropriates the dialogue from the ambience form the soundtrack. The optional English subtitles sync well with the Dutch language track. I’m a little disappointed in the DVD cover as it resembles something that Dimension Films would have produced back in the early 2000s and doesn’t really speak to the film’s thrilling storyline. Overall, “Reckless” is a quality remake release for Artsploitation Films and for production company Topkapi Films that gave alternative, yet still quality, actors a chance to redo a role already grounded and established.
Here is an entertaining little piece of UK slasher horror that will sure be appreciated as well as thrilling. “Slasher House” had finished filming and was wrapped up in a nice bow two years ago but, finally, made an appearance on DVD just last year in the UK. A whole another year later and “Slasher House” hits retail shelves this past Tuesday in the States – about damn time – courtesy of Sector 5 Films. In all honestly, the good old USA missed out on releasing “Slasher House” as this English film’s crew and cast were the highlights of turning a run of the mill survival film into a great little unknown gem of a movie.
Red wakes up stark naked in a cell of a grungy rundown prison. Plagued with amnesia, she can’t remember who she is let alone how she how she got here. When her cell door opens up, Red discovers she isn’t alone as their other captives, but these captives are not so innocent. Within these iron bars and walls, she is trapped with notorious serial killers who are being released from the cells one by one. With no way out in sight, Red must elude the killers as they hunt for her in the corridors. There are more sinister means behind this game, but she must go through the players first to find out why she’s here and who she really is.
Leading lady Eleanor James was labeled one of Britain’s new age scream queens. Though she delivers no real scream here in “Slasher House,” James’ character resembles more of Milla Jovovich’s Alice character in the Resident Evil series – more so with the red dress, calm demeanor, and feistiness with less kung fu, ESP abilities. Her performance as Red has you rooting for her all the way because she is the first and last “last girl” in “Slasher House” against a handful of murderous sonuvabitches.
Each notorious slasher has a trademark and a unique personality – a child killer, an operator, a brute, a dual personality – leaving no room for boring characters. Their backstories are briefly told in a flashback anecdote just short enough to give you their whole persona. The plot is a bit more complex than it’s unique cast of characters. I like the idea of bringing a lineup of serial killer allstars into a dirty old prison and letting them face off. I wish there was more of that. Half of “Slasher House” was trying to find an exit and the other half was escaping the maniacs. No real dull moments plagued the film, but with a premise that involves a battle royal amongst the worst of the worst, you would think you’d be up against a blood spattered wall and heads would be constantly rolling. The other half of my mind says the slowed down story goes better with a film like this to build the characters up for a great and glorious downfall.
“Slasher House” plays out like a graphic novel and could be well turned into one. A great one in fact. “Slasher House” also delivers a twist ending that you won’t see coming until the very end! Speaking of the movie’s end, the open ending doesn’t explain much to the character’s situation. One could only guess to the purpose behind the game, but none of the plans are plainly explained.
“Slasher House” is a must buy from Sector 5 Films. Two years have I waited for a film like this that could entertain me on a budget while pulling off major production status. I’m very impressed by director MJ Dixon and his vision and his future is bright with indie pictures and possibly get a gig in Hollywood if he keeps turning out good films. If you have a fear of clowns you may want to stay away; other than that, pick this DVD up that was released this past Tuesday the 26th!
Eleanor James – Brief Topless / Butt
Anna Murphy – Possibly covered topless
Can you remember the last good vampire flick? Does Underworld count? My mind can’t conjure up one better than Interview with the Vampire, but of course, all of these examples are mainstream, hollywood-produce examples. Am I shunning the back alley projects? Perhaps I’ve just seen too much horror movies. I can’t recall the last indie vampire project that was actually worth a viewing. Unfortunately, I still haven’t come across such a worthy viewing even if the topic of this review is a vampire genre film called Dead Cert.
A tough London gang are ruthless when it comes to territorial disputes, taking care of their competition with merciless violence, but when an Iranian businessman comes into town, Freddy and his gang don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. The Iranian businessmen are more than just land searchers, they’re legendary vampires looking to reclaim what they claim is theirs – the London land. Freddy’s club becomes their base of operations when Freddy’s boxer Dennis loses his bout against an Iranian brute.