The Dying Baltic Traditions Live in the Ashes of EVIL. “Cult Girls” (Umbrella Entertainment / DVD)

The pagan Cult, the Golden Path, remains nearly all that is left of the ancient practice as Lithuania becomes one of the last countries to be converted to Christianity in the late 14th century.  Led by an archaic, yet powerful, goddess named Ragana, the Golden Path promises to flourish once again with the power of death, reincarnation, and control through sordid misdeeds.  When Dalia and her two young sisters become prepped for a ritual of an important role in the cult, potentially leading them down the path of sex and sacrifice, a traitorous follower helps the sisters attempt to escape their emmeshing fate as the police raid the Golden Path compound ensuing a firefight that leads to the death Ragana and Dalia’s getaway, but her sisters are kidnapped and held captive by the remaining cult members.  Years later and riddled with guilt, Dalia must know what happened to her sisters and she tracks down a death metal cultist, Moloch, who seemingly has a connection to Golden Path, with the help of Samoth, a black metal fanatic, but Moloch forestry hermit lifestyle cuts off Dalia and Samoth from the rest of the world and the convicted arsonist against all things Christianity may have more up his sleeve than what meets the eye.

With a title that sounds like an all-girl goth band from the grunge era of the 1990’s, or maybe even more so from the “Scooby Doo” franchise (Hex Girls anyone?), “Cult Girls” summons the actuality of being an acute quasi-historical and dark fantasy thriller hailing from the Ozploitation capital of the world, Australia.  “Cult girls” is the second, non-documentary film from “The Matrix’ inspired “Narcosys” director, Mark Bakaitis, who directed, wrote, and edited his the multi-location sophomore film that has on location scenes from not only in Australia, but also in Lithuania, at the notable Hill of Crosses landmark, and in the indiscernible urban locations of Germany.  Bakaitis serves as producer alongside executive producer Douglas Kaplan of the diverse arts platform production company, All Edge Entertainment, based in Santa Monica, California. 

The Australian production casts an American to star as Ragana, the brood matriarch destined to rejuvenate Golden Path’s permanence, with “V’s” very own Jane Badler.  Badler brings an international presence to the feature and isn’t a stranger to films from the down under.  With the actress’s soul-seducing cutting eyes and demonic empress allure, the New York born Badler exacts Ragana’s clutching strength as an underground Pagan seeking unlimited decadent power.  However, Badler is overshadowed by the timorousness of Dalia whose polar opposite presence is granted a more favorable chunk of screen time.  Finnish born Saara Lamberg plays the humbled Dalia, living her life out of a covenant while searching out the cult that once almost stitched her into the sew of sleazy affairs to unearth the whereabouts of her younger sisters.  Dalia’s a bit of a dull principle with no substantiated efforts in finding her siblings and it isn’t until Samoth stalks her one night, recognizing the Golden Path’s symbol tattooed on her wrist and offering his manhunt services to find the expelled Moloch, an exaggerated black metal anti-Christianity anarchist in a saturating performance by Albert Goikhman.  In the middle, masked brutes, half naked women, and, fallen by the waist side, Dalia’s sisters in standalone plot point narratives that, as far as story structure goes, does nothing to motivate the narrative other than be an ostentatious aesthetic of locations and debauchery.  “Cult Girls” rounds out the cast with Tony Markulin (“MurderDrome”), Algias Karazija, Dean Kirkright, a handful of Bakaitis’s family, and Simay Argento, a distant relative to Dario Argeno playing a Cult Auntie in the film.

“Cult Girls” borders being avant-garde of an unfiltered auteur’s will in a mesh of artistic polishes and prose dialogue, but the film slides into being more of an 83 minute music video over staying it’s welcome and drudges through a repetitive stylistic cycle to an almost nearly unwatchable extent.  Yet, “Cult Girls” somehow manages to retain attention despite the chewy acting and it’s ambling story that hits a dam wall of uncertainly of where the script should head. Bakaitis shoulders the story for modern Gothicism tapped with half naked occultist, sometimes bathing in blood, and a plague of nightmare imagery that director of photography Trent Schneider tunes into well with noir vitality despite being the cinematographer’s debut feature film, but through the shiny exterior of a handful of solid mise-en-scene work, “Cult Girls” numbs the impact of the soul corrupting Pagan syndicate, that may or may not be shrouded with supernatural foundations, and the anti-Christian propaganda with half-baked violence from geriatric men, masked with Dia de los Muertos style masks, able to be kingpins of an untouchable prostitution ring façade for their occult sacrifices in broad public without a bat of an eyelash.  Granted, prostitution is likely legal in Germany and Lithuania so authorities might turn a blind eye, but brothels are a convenient opportunity for police investigations. “Cult Girls” treasures the fact of Lithuania’s languishing heritage without being overly filmic heresy by blending in shaded sleaze and death, but there lies no story in Dalia’s unenthusiastic search for her sisters in a much more preacherly themed death metal horror that confuses cult with religion.

 

Apocalyptic reincarnations and traditional folklores collide in Mark Bakaitis’s “Cult Girls” on DVD now from Umbrella Entertainment. The Australian release is a single layer DVD with region 4, PAL encoded format, presented in a widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Trent Schneider’s keen eye captures a grim fairytale surface of black magic masochism and, at the same time, breathtaking in the pure nature scenes, but the imagery is mostly in devoid of richer color that lingers around a bluish-gray monochrome tone and struggles with hazy details, especially around facial features, that smoothly fuzz over. The English, German, and Lithuanian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix battens down with shiplap genres of traditional Lithuania folk and modern metal from composing sound designer Erin McKimm, implementing the traditional songs of Lithuania sung by the Melbourne-Lithuania community singers, The Lost Clogs. Industrial action fills in every nook and cranny of the remaining score with decent range and depth of ambiance. While the dialogue is prominent and clear, there are spelling errors and tiny text issues with the English subtitles when the narrative lands in Germany and Lithuania. The DVD’s bonus features includes audio commentary, making of featurettes with cast and crew interviews, Bakaitis’s short film, “Mercy Kill” that serves one of the founding themes for “Cult Girls,” and music videos directed by Mark Bakaitis. For an Australian film, “Cult Girls” will feel more worldly, unlike anything else that comes out of Australia, and have partisan propaganda against Christianity, but in the end, the insidious Pagan evil, on the precipice of resurrecting, wearies on, like a tireless sermon of doom.

The EVIL In Our Past Will Forever Plague. “Ever After” reviewed!


A plague has decimated the world, turning citizens into crazed, flesh eating zombies. In Germany, only two cities have survived the devastating apocalypse the last two years – Weimar and Jena. In Weimar, the infected are immediately eradicated on site without exceptions. In Jena, compassionate individuals strive for a cure for the diseased. Weimar residents, Vivi and Eva, sneak out of the authoritative camp for their own personal reasons and flee toward Jena’s safe-haven policy in hopes for a better way of life, but a perilous journey through the horde occupied Black Forest stands in between them and salvation. Without weapons, food, and one liter of water between them, chances of coming out unscathed are slim-to-none as long as nothing separates them from assisting their survival.

Based off the illustrated graphic novel of the same name written by Olivia Viewig, “Endzeit,” also known as “Ever After” in the English translation, hits the big screen in the 2018 film adaptation under the orchestration of a female, Sweden-born director Carolina Hellsgård as her sophomore feature with Viewig herself providing the script treatment. With pop culture entrenched and seemingly an extension of herself, Olivia Viewig is by trade a German cartoonist best known for her quirky “Why Cats…” series, a children’s book author, and regularly contributions to the world of Manga to which she was influenced. Viewig then turned to horror with “Endzeit” that served as a graduating studies project that earned her a University degree in 2012. The initially 72-page full-length comic became extended six years later in 2018 by a major German publisher named Carlsen and served as the basis of the script for the film about to be covered below that’s a coming-of-age film that also symbolizes passing of the torch for two young and dissimilar women scrambling between two opposing worlds with a common calamity.

Initially, “Ever After” focuses around the immense struggles of a shut-in named Vivi, a character instilled with paralyzing fear and guilt that has more or less clinically diagnoses her as an extreme agoraphobic whose been hasn’t stepped outside the last two years ever since the plague occurred. “Nothing Bad Can Happen” actress Gro Swantje Kohlhof envelopes herself as the “weakling” her character is ascribed by hardened and callous Weimar survivors, but as Kohlhof evolves Vivi’s fragile resolve into something more concrete, Kohlhof also opens a little more trait range for Vivi when she is finally pushed across the threshold of letting go her fear and guilt. Eva can be said as Vivi’s hard-bitten muse whose looking for a softer slice of life and as Eva becomes engulfed in Vivi’s massively sheltered circle by chance, the former Weimar grunt is able to crack through the hardened exterior and let someone like Vivi into be a calming force in her own anxiety riddled interior. Maja Lehrer compliments as the aggressor in an encouraging pair of diverse female characters driven by their regrettable past to never look back on it and keep moving forward to a better prospect that’ll wash their souls clean. Haired tied back tight, form-fitting mercenary-esque clothing, and a self-preserving attitude to match, Lehrer rounds Eva out well to arch her role hard when Vivi is ready to take the reins as an apocalyptic ranger of the Black Forest. In the forest, Vivi and Eva encounter a mystical being, a half-breed of sorts between living and dead, who doesn’t have a name but goes by The Gardener is played by Denmark actress Trine Dyrholm. Since “Ever After” references quite a bit about nature taking the world from man, I’d like Dyrholm represents Mother Nature as the character invites Vivi to her abundant tomato green house, a serene scenery of low-hanging fruit trees, and the character herself has vines and leaves growing out of the side of a human face and can temporary restore or extend life to a person. Vivi and Eva’s brief encounter prompt’s a change in them both that defines their destiny going forward toward Jena. The cast rounds out with minor roles from Barbara Philipp, Yuho Yamashita, Amy Schuk, Axel Warner, Muriel Wimmer, and Ute Wieckhorst.

If you’re looking for blood, “Ever After” is not that kind of zombie film that glorifies the flesh chomping violence but rather utilizes the violence as a motivator for Vivi and Eva to embark from safety, but that isn’t to say the sheer zombie terror is omitted or even diluted. The mass of running undead continues to be a force of concentrated fear with heart pounding side effects, much carried over from Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Late” and Zack Synder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” and director Hellsgård seldomly relies on a crazed horde to be the mindless exploit of “Ever After’s” core message. Instead, the story clearly defines the growth and understanding Vivi and Eva as individuals and as part of something more, taught in part by their short time with The Gardener, and a highly reflective poignant past that ripples through their memory banks over and over again. Their ambitions nearly shot from existence at the beginning of the apocalypse to the start of their Black Forest voyage have found harmony in letting the past be the past by the end of the story. Once could call it a coming-of-age to see the two women elevate themselves from a place of inner turmoil and, in my opinion, the two women part of that is greatly important because “Ever After” is almost, about 95%, completely female cast driven. So, not only is the story a coming of age one, but also speaks upon self-reliance and empowerment for women.

The swotted comic of Olivia Viewig gains a visual odyssey amongst the undead catalogue with a Blu-ray release of the Das Kleine Fernsehspiel and Grown Up Films production, “Ever After,” distributed by MVDVisual and Juno Films. Stored on a BD-25 and presented in an anamorphic widescreen of it’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, “Ever After’s” 1080p full high definition image is sleek to every sensory receptor in the eye and captures the topographic thickets of Germany landscapes in grand wide angles. There is not a lot of tint work here, if any, and relies much on the luminescent and glowing beauty of natural light. The German language DTS-HD 5.1 master audio sufficiently taps into all five channels without overbearing results from zombie hordes. Instead, the focal points here discern more on the tiny tunes and tones of nature. Also included in the setup is an option for a 2.0 LCPM Stereo Audio track and English subtitles, which appear accurate but are hastily paced. Other than a static menu, the region free, 90 minute runtime release bares no special features other than the trailer. “Ever After” is an ascension from within the very weary genre oeuvre, encouraging the strength to stomach guilt and fear as important, but presently irrelevant if one wishes to change with a world that has redesigned around them.

Purchase Ever After on Blu-ray! Click the Cover to buy!

Necrophilia EVIL Will Love You Beyond Death! “Nekromantik” and “Nekromantik 2” reviewed!


Husband and wife, Rob and Betty, enjoy the company of other people in their bedroom. Those other people are corpses. With Rob’s profession being a street cleaner after grisly accidents, he’s able to bring home bits and pieces of deceased individuals: eyeballs, hearts, hand, etc. When Rob is left in charge to dispose of half decomposed corpse fished out of a lake, the necrophiliac husband brings home a third party to his necrophiliac wife for play time, but when tensions between them rise with the loss of Rob’s position, Betty doesn’t want to waste her life with a deadbeat husband when she can have a dead man give her all the pleasures she desires. Feeling lost without the company of the corpse, Rob struggles to find his place in life and resorts to murdering animals and prostitutes to get his rocks off, leading to an extraordinary life alternating conclusion.

Necrophilia. Necrophilism. Necrolagnia. Necrocoitus. Necrochlesis. Thanatophilia. The act goes by many terms and divides into many segments, but the end result concludes to the same sexual attraction and acts, involving intercourse, with a lifeless corpse and writer-director, Jörg Buttgereit, aimed to exploit the exploits of grave robbers and murderers to stand against the strict censorship that was presently structured around German cinema in 1987. As Buttgereit’s first full length directorial filmed in West Germany and co-written by Franz Rodenkirchen, their censorship battling film, “Nekromantik,” is tinged heavily in necrophilia that, while obviously gross and illegal in the conventions of society, intertwines with the unwavering romantic gesture; a sensual disposition of tenderness and love for the other whether or not their eyeball is hanging out of a decaying socket or their covered in a think layer of body purging mucus. “Nekromantik’s” tragedy isn’t so much in the appalling acts, but in the defining human directions of grief and destruction that ultimately still make us human even if our acts are inhumanity.

In “Nekromantik 2,” a female nurse named Monika digs up a freshly buried male corpse to be her sexual play thing, but as she questions her feelings for necrophilia, Monika tries to suppress those deviant desires by befriending-to-date a young man, Mark, whole also keeping limited parts of the body while cutting up and disposing the remaining pieces. Seemingly going well with her boyfriend, Monika’s relationship resembles a stint of normalcy, but her desires bubble to the surface as she fantasizes about the corpse and goes to great lengths to keep Mark lifeless as possible during their lovemaking. Mark’s suspicions about her girlfriend does deter him from beauty or his desires for her, but how long can Monika go without her beloved bloated and discolored carcass? What lengths will show go to secure her happiness while taking advantage of Mark warm body?

As an extension of Buttgereit’s “Nekromantik,” “Nekromantik 2,” also known subtitled as “The Return of the Loving Dead,” is a direct sequel in limited fashion with only the corpse being the connecting factor. However, the 1991, East Germany filmed “Nekromantik 2” aggregates and compounds the unsavory lust for the dead that depicts a stronger sense of violence at an explosive carnality in the final act. Along with Franz Rodenkirchen as co-writing, Buttgereit returns to co-write and direct the sequel of considerable unlawful content, according to German authorities that arrested and trialed Buttgereit for poisonous material that could affect the youth of Germany. However, Buttgereit comes unscathed by the tribunal in a justified win against censorship. “Nekromantik” and the sequel aren’t necessarily set in a platonically set society, but held within the confines of an invented world chockfull of ignorance and drenched in biodegradable bliss.

Daktari Lorenz stars as the hopeless romantic for putrid partners. Lorenz is a good look for the Joe’s Street Cleaning Agency employed Rob as Lorenz is a scrappy man with thinning wild hair set on top of a receding hair line and has a feral soul behind his wide eyes, fitting for a fellow who did a short stint in porn in later years, but starring as Rob, however inglorious he might portray the role, wasn’t Lorenz only contribution to Buttgereit’s “Nekromantic” as he became the special effects guru behind the corpse’s fruition – the corpse that would be Rob’s character’s rotten rival. Rob’s tragedy situation is a plight of villainy against villainy, leaving the role unsympathetic to audiences but still leaving a residue impression of sordid anxiety. Rob’s only rival to necrophilia is within Monika, played by Monika M., from “Nekromantic 2” who goes through a different kind of internal struggle. Whereas Rob struggles with loss of two companions, one living and one dead, Monika struggles oppositely with one living and one dead and the choice she must make between the two. Monika doesn’t long for a cold, slimy, dead body and she choices to dispose the one that was held firm in her embracing grasp; yet she has an inkling for normalcy, a urge to undercut her deviancy, and acts upon the reformation despite the addictive callings for necrophilism. There’s not much in terms of a supporting cast in his low-budget shock horror, but the few co-stars include Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, and Mark Reeder.

Overall, the “Nekromantik” films can still produce shock systemically despite being antiqued from the ye ole days of Video Nasties from the 80’s. Director Jörg Buttgereit might be thought perverse or mental to pinch body parts or dead bodies for tales of romance, but no matter his intentions to bring to the cinematic table, Buttgereit could be considered a far-fetched genius delivering the very definition of necrophilia to the screen and hoisting up a narrative around a taboo and illegal stricken act in the name of anti-censorship. Both films are nearly dialogue-less and, perhaps, wouldn’t have been highly accepted in the cult world if the score wasn’t as poignant or powerful as it was. Composed by Hermann Kopp, John Boy Walton, and, again another hat, Dakari Lorenz, as well as Monika M. in the sequel, they compose a classical and new age soundtrack that’s neither obtrusive to the ears nor not necessarily out of bounds of being parallel with the explicit material, marking the tracks as much as a character and being the quintessential dialogue much needed for a virtual silent, and extremely graphic, social commentary piece.

Cult Epics has really outdone themselves with a fantastic re-release of their previous issues of the “Nekromantik” films, releasing a limited edition, only 500 copies, Blu-ray release of both films, sheathed not only in their individual slipcase with original artwork, but also housed fully in a larger, double-sided slipcase bundle with artwork by Martin Trafford whose been a long time collaborator with director Jörg Buttgereit. The two films are presented in their original aspect ratio, 1:33:1, with two cuts available of “Nekromantik”: a director approved, super 8mm restored transfer, blown up to 35mm, that’s of a relatively washed image, but is vastly superior and clean look with hardly any blemishes upon the reconstructed coloring, which looks great considering. The second cut, a 35mm “Grindhouse version,” is a HD untouched version that keeps in the burns and blemishes and emits a warmer image in comparison. The 16mm, director approved transfer of “Nekromantik 2” is also neat, clean, and infraction free with a more natural color scheme overlaying and not as stylized as Buttgereit’s first film. The German language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound with re-transcribed English subtitles puts the vigorous soundtrack on a pedestal in the midst of previous releases that saw lossy audio compositions. With hardly any dialogue and next to none excitable action in both films, the burden lies truly on the back of the score that’s riveting and powerful and the right call to improve amongst the options for tinkering. There are also German language 2.0 stereo mixes available. A wealth of new and old bonus material includes the new transfers mentioned above, plus introductions by director Jörg Buttgereit, Q and A with the director at the American Cinematheque, audio commentary on both films by Buttergereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen with Monika M. and Mark Reeder included in “Nerkomantik 2,” the making-of for both films, “Nekromantik” featurette, still galleries of both features, two isolated versions the films’ soundtracks plus a live version of “Nekromantik 2,” “Nekromantik 2” post cards, and a couple of Buttgereit short films entitled “Hot Love” and “A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein,” plus music videos and live concerts from the director, Monika M., more. Cult Epics’ wrote the definition on the definitive release for “Nekromantik” and “Nekromantik 2” and if you thought the content couldn’t get any gooier, grosser, dissident, and vile, Cult Epics said hold my beer and went to grave and back with a phenomenal package bundle that’ll be a necrophiliac’s delight as well as a gory gem in the collection of any horror film enthusiast.

Visit Cult Epics for your copy!

 

Plus, the holidays are right around the corner and at http://www.cultepics.com you can gift yourself or gift to others their very own Messed Up Puzzles’ 1000 piece jigsaw set inspired by both “Nekromantik” and “Nekromantik 2!”  These NSFW puzzles are a limited run, with 50 out of the 300 signed by director, Jörg Buttgereit!  (Selected randomly through distribution).

 

If You Don’t Know Who You Are? Then Evil Does. “The Ninth Configuration” review!

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An insane asylum located in the North West region of the United States attempts an experimental test to root out Vietnam soldiers faking signs of psychosis. A new commanding officer, a military psychiatrist named Colonel Kane, will take the lead of the experiment. But Kane’s methods are unorthodox and Kane himself seems distant from what’s expected from him, leaving the military patients, and even some of the personnel, wondering about his state of mind. Kane lets the committed soldiers live out their most outrageous fantasies and the further his practice plays out, the more that there might actually be something terribly wrong with the new commanding colonel.
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“The Ninth Configuration” is the big screen adapted version of William Peter Blatty’s novel entitled “Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane.” Blatty, who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, dives back into motion pictures once again after the success of another previous adapted novel; a little piece of work you may be familiar with called “The Exorcist.” In the span of seven years, Blatty was able to cast again the versatile Jason Miller, who had portrayed a much more serious Father Karras in “The Exorcist,” as one of the leading asylum inmates in “The Night Configuration.” From then on, the hired case was forming into a formidable force of method actors including Stacy Keach (“Slave of the Cannibal God”), Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead), Ed Flanders (“The Exorcist III”), Robert Loggia (“Scarface”), Neville Brand (“Eaten Alive”), George DiCenzo (“The Exorcist III”), Moses Gunn (“Rollerball”), Joe Spinell (“Maniac”), Tom Atkins (“The Fog”), Richard Lynch (“Invasion U.S.A.”), and Steve Sander (“Stryker”). This cast is a wet dream of talent.
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What’s unique about Blatty’s direction of this film is the non-displaying of action and dialogue off screen. Whether it’s character narration, dialogue track overlay, or slightly off camera view, the spectator, for more about half the film or perhaps even more, isn’t being directed to focus on the current action or dialogue and this creates the illusion of hearing bodiless voices or activities, as if you’re part of the ranks in the mentally insane roster. Only until the truth or catalyst is reveal is when more traditional means of camera focus is applied.
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To make this technique work and to make it not become tiresome to the viewer, Blatty had to write some amazing dialogue and with him being a novelist and all, the dialogue was absolutely, 100 percent brilliant. Lets not also neglect to mention that with unrivaled dialogue, out of this world thespians must be accompanied to breathe life into the black printed words that are simply laying upon white pages. Scott Wilson’s and Jason Miller’s craziness is unparalleled while, on the other side of the spectrum, Stacy Keach delivers a melancholic performance that balances out the tone of the film from what could have been considered an anti-Vietnam war comedy at first glance that spun quickly with an unforeseen morph into a suspenseful thriller about the consequences of war PTSD and the affect it has on those surrounding.
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Gerry Fisher’s cinematography encompasses the Gothicism of the remote Germanic castle to where every ghastly statue and crypt-like stone comes alive like in a horror movie. The setting couldn’t be any of an antonym for a loony-bin set. Even though the film is suppose to be set in North West America, the location used was actually in Wierschem, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany at the medieval Castle Eltz and the story subtly explains how the castle came to be in “America.” To the opposition of such a barbarically beautiful castle, the score by Barry De Vorzon (The Warriors) in the first act into the second is playful, lighthearted, and childish in an appropriate story tone, but turns quickly sinister and angry during progression, building upon the revealing climax.
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Classic film and TV distributor Second Sight brings this cult classic onto DVD and Blu-ray in the UK. Since this was a screener copy of the DVD, I’m unable to provide any audio or video technical comments, but the screener did include the generous amount of bonus material including interviews with writer-director William Peter Blatty, and individual interviews with Stacy Keach, Tom Atkins and Stephen Powers, composer Barry De Vorzon, production designer William Malley and art director J. Dennis Washington. There are also deleted scenes and outtakes and a Mark Kermode introduction. A substantial release for Second Sight and a fine film for any collection so make sure you pick up or order this Second Sight release today!

Evil Will Lock You Up Forever! Iron Doors review!

IDMVDA young investment banker awakes with a major headache and trapped inside a vault. Having no idea how he landed inside this death trap, he struggles to find a way out before he dies of dehydration or starvation. As he tries to piece together who has an immoral vendetta against him, an escape from the vault leaves him desperate and energy spent while the questions of his mysterious circumstances are almost too much for his mind to bare.

We’ve seen this type of movie before where one or more people wake up to find that they have no idea where they are or how they got there. Iron Doors plays on top of that age old aspect that normally what scares the crap out of people – the unknown. Iron Doors resembles a lot like 1997’s Cube without the traps. Instead, the rooms are filled with different objects that might or might not leave foreboding clues to their whereabouts – such as a coffin and a grave. The idea behind these types of movies, which also include the first two Saw movies and Ryan Reynolds Buried, are giant concepts and yet somehow these filmmakers, including Iron Doors director Stephen Manuel, are able to take the minimalistic routes and produce a thrilling story.

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However, unlike Saw and Cube, Iron Doors ending bares a big disappointment and leaves the audience more questions than answers. I can tell you that the ending left me yearning for more answers, but I guess we have to make our own conclusions and nothing can just be handed to us as a freebie. I hope this won’t spoil too much or if any at all about the movie, but I want to provide my own interpretation of the status on our main character actor Axel Wedekind and his companion actress Rungano Nyoni, an African woman who doesn’t speak a lick of English. I strongly believe the characters are dead and have been stuck in limbo where the duo must be capable to work together, supporting each other to dig, chisel, and survive their way out of the vaults. The clues are this, and I’ve mention these two already, the coffin and the open grave. Two straight forward signs of recent death. Also, when Axel wakes up in his vault, what accompanies him is a maggot infested dead rat and that, again, suggests that death surrounds him. When Axel tries to recall what he was doing before he awoke in the vault, he states that he was out at the bar (he continuously states that he will never drink again) and didn’t know where he left his car suggesting that Axel was very intoxicated and probably crashed his car, killing himself in a DUI incident. Rungano, in subtitles, mentions being from Africa where we know genocide and disease plague most of the un-urbanized parts of the lands. Rungano’s traditional outfit suggests that she leaves in a primitive tribe. A bit of a stretch on my end, I know. Plus, the vault itself is supernatural and every time the characters enter a new room they are confronted by the same four walls and a vault door, but only the objects are different.

The film never really picks up the pace and sometimes the tediousness of the characters’ attempts to escape are captured too long in a scene extending the scene way past it’s prime. Their survival instincts, drinking their own urine, eating maggots, using a discovered oxygen tank for air, are seemingly instinctively smart, but realistically very ill-advised. We can only blame panic on the part of Axel, but opposite Axel, Rungano is calmer and level headed yet she is persuaded by Axel who has been awake three days longer than Rungano. Yet desperation gets the better of her when knowing her existence is near end and breaks down to enjoy compassionate love with a barely alive Axel in what could be their last hours on, what they believe, is their world.

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MVD releases the Germany born and bred English spoken Iron Doors, a suspenseful thriller I would recommend for any fans of Cube or Buried. If you’re claustrophobic, then I’m sorry because you probably will not enjoy this film; you’ll most likely suffocate at the idea of being locked in a small room with a dead rat. Purchase the film at MVD!