The Cycle of Life Can Be EVIL. “Vivarium” reviewed! (Screener/Vertigo Releasing)


Gemma and Tom are a happily in love young couple who are looking to purchase a starter home. They visit a real-estate agency for a brand new housing development called Yonder. Met by a strange and persuasive real-estate agent, they’re convinced to follow the unusual agent to tour the neighborhood that has been marketed as the family forever home with everything they could ever need and want. A row upon row of identical houses and yards go as far as the eye can see and before the tour of the rather ordinary house number 9 ends, Gemma and Tom find themselves alone inside with the bizarre agent gone. Their efforts to leave the mysterious residential suburbia proves impossible as each turn leads them back to house number 9. When a box containing a baby boy is left at the doorstep with a note to raise the child to be released, the young couple reluctantly reside into domestic confinement.

Vivarium defined is an enclosure, container, or structure adapted prepared for keeping animals under seminatural conditions for observation or study or as pets, like an aquarium or a terrarium. “Vivarium,” the 2019 movie, embraces the definition, twisted into an idiosyncratic neighborhood block of duplicity from the “Without Name” director, Lorcan Finnegan. Story concept is flushed out by Finnegan and “Vivarium’” credited screenwriter, Garret Stanley, in their second collaboration for the director’s sophomore feature endeavor that’s a panicking puzzle in every square foot of Yonder’s backwards backyard. The film resonates with echoes of Finnegan and Stanley’s seminal short film, “Foxes,” from 2012, revolving around a couple living in a remote and forgotten housing development and become drowning in obsession, madness, and malaise as shrieking foxes surround their isolated home. There’s an equating animalistic instinct to each film that brandishes many of the same motifs as well as joining themes that are corralled in Finnegan’s copious foreboding and disconnecting dehumanization narrative. “Vivarium” is produced by XYZ Films (“Tusk”), Fantastic Films (“Stitches”), PingPong Film, and Frakas Productions (“Raw”).

The happy, young love birds are played by Imogen Poots (“Green Room” and “Black Christmas” 2019 released remake), who has an underlining affinity for not typecasting herself in the same role, and Jesse Eisenberg (“Cursed” and “Zombieland”), who manages to step a foot outside his conventional performance of a rattle mouth, know-it-all. However, Eisenberg deserves the praise of a man with severed ties from reality as the actor embraces a reserved manic by channeling Tom’s obsessive need to dig, an aspect of his handyman profession he’s good at in perhaps providing an escape from cage-less confinement, and being the bearer of skepticism of caring for an abnormal child. Gemma has complications of her own confronting her educator responsibilities for young children. She struggles with internal conflict, does she still use her innate care and instruct a young mind or in self-preservation, take Tom’s passive aggressive approach? Poots and Eisenberg share a mutual, caring bond that defines Gemma and Tom kind of steady, kind of loose relationship that gradually devolves civilly, like the amicable breakdown of a marriage revealing lost, but not forgotten love between two people. Along with the surreal atmosphere, “Vivarium” grades well in the creepy kid department with the child in Tom and Gemma care, but don’t even bother giving a name. Dubbed with a playful man’s voice, a shrill scream ignited by displeasure, a knack for imitating, and always dressed in Sunday’s best, Senan Jennings’ middle aged boy presence is a supernova of chilling proportions with a performance that gives his co-stars a run for their money while Eanna Hardwicke is equally spasmodic and creepy as the grown up, young man version of the boy with a little more alienating know-how and clandestine about his origins.

Finnegan and Stanley pursue thought-provoking substance of human corporeal limitations and how we, as humans, cycle through them with such cavalier ease. The opening scenes examples this with the practice of the common cuckoo laying their mimicry egg inside the nests of other birds. As a brood parasite amongst birds, the cuckoo egg hatches and the cuckoo chick pushes out the mother birds’ inborn chicks and becomes the sole chick in the nest with the surrogate mother tending to the cuckoo’s dietary needs. When the cuckoo is matured, it is grossly larger than the mother bird and, also, mimics the bird species to an extent, much in the same way of the boy or young man Gemma and Tom surrogate as being the unintended mimicry that infiltrates and ousts the limitations of his foster parents. Finnegan and Stanley also explore the parental lifecycle with the theme that our children will replace us, extend our legacy, but we will ultimately be forgotten. “Vivarium’s” craft dictates a larger scale, disproportionate, otherworld teemed with secret subterranean corridors leading to other disturbing observatory immures, making for a stimulating meta-induced terrarium as we watch miniature versions of Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots suffer inside a screen from the comfort of our couch.

If you’re stuck at home, living the quarantine life you’ve always wanted, “Vivarium” may just break of your introverted stance on home with it’s “Black Mirror” and “Twilight Zone” encouragement. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vertigo Releasing and Wildcard Distribution released film has circulated digital only on the following platforms in the UK: iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin, Google Play, Rakuten, BT, Playstation, Microsoft, Curzon Home Cinema, and BFI Player. Unfortunately, I will not be able to comment or critique of the audio, video, or bonus features of this release due to the varying elements of a digital screener. Novel, suspenseful, and a great film to brood over, yet difficult envisaging, “Vivarium” truly resembles slithers of somber dimensions of an upside world with lashings of surveillance paranoia.

Amazon Prime Video is one way to watch! Rent or Buy “Vivarium” with Prime Video

Where There is Darkness, There is Evil. “The Dark Tapes” review!


Four dark and terrifying tapes tell tales of a petrifying horror through the camera lens of various found footage assets. Whether between the bleak, grim nature of disturbed mankind or the ominous, otherworldliness of menacing creatures, each story’s ultimate objective is to expose what lies behind the scenes, to shine a light upon what lives shrouded in shadows, and to unearth what lurks in the mind’s subconscious. At first glance, the dark tapes might seem uncorrelated, but at closer examination, the tapes share a deep rooted evil that connects every afflicted recorded event and makes one think twice about their perception on reality.

“The Dark Tapes” are a formidable found footage anthology that resembles a familiar “V/H/S” layout under the meticulously constructed eyes of co-directors Michael McQuown and special effects guru Vincent Guastini (Child’s Play 3). Scripted by the anthology creator, Michael McQuown, “The Dark Tapes'” four interlocking episodes will leave inside you a paralyzing case of nyctophobia as the genre-spliced anthology has no shortage of bone-chilling creepiness; in fact, “The Dark Tapes” epitomizes the very term and with an alternate universe mixture of ghastly ghouls, ghosts, and grisliness, the extremely exhausted found footage genre might have discovered some new, and much needed, life before being on the brink of a near death extinction in this quaint independent production from Michael McQuown.

The three internal tapes, directed by McQuown, are entitled, and in this order, “The Hunters and The Hunted,” “Cam Girls,” and “Amanda’s Revenge” with Vincent Guastini’s external wrap around segment, “How to Catch a Demon,” being broken into four parts between each tape and each tape should be viewed in complete and utter darkness to achieve maximum level of pants-pissing fright. Your overworked heart will skip with long deadly pauses in between, your lungs that keep you breathing will cease to provide breath, and your mind will warp to unfavorably play tricks on your eyes from an unrivaled nightmare witnessed on “The Dark Tapes.” The full body-stopping, comatose-inducing effect can’t be accomplished without the collaborating cast that includes Brittany Underwood, Tess Munro, Stephen Zimpel, Meredith Thomas, David Roundtree, “Sushia Girl’s” Cortney Palm, Anna Rose Moore, Shawn Lockie, Jo Galloway, and Michael Cotter to just name a few.

Much is right about Michael McQuown’s “The Dark Tapes.” Always welcoming practical effects are better than most indie ran features, especially in the anthology category, and the effects can best some lower-end Hollywood productions inside eye-glueing, on the edge of your seat narrative designs that are smart, gripping, and definitely heart-stopping scary, but to be somewhat of a devil’s advocate, the acting was overall a bit stiff across the plane with an awkward uneasiness in the vary of lackluster performances and overzealous deliveries that petered scenes from reaching full potentials. Production wise, “The Dark Tapes” impress inside the sets of bland reoccurring locations, but coincide them with a vast amount of timely, well placed special effects that quickly mutate the stark locations and the uninteresting backdrops turn into vivid portraits of hell.

The Thunder Road Incorporated produced, “The Dark Tapes,” has been slated for a worldwide video on demand distribution release come this mid-April after a theatrical stint this past March courtesy of the Epic Pictures Group. VOD platforms include Google Play, Vudu, iNDemand (Comcast- Xfinity, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House & more), Dish TV, Amazon, Vubiquity (Verizon Fios, Charter, Sudden Link, Media Com &more), Xbox, Playstation, Sling TV & Vimeo. Unfortunately, I was provided with an online screener of the festival favorite and can’t necessarily comment on the video or audio qualities nor any bonus features that might be available on a home entertainment release, but I can firmly state that, visually, “The Dark Tapes” is the Haribo of horror eye-candy with the different flavors of thrilling genres in a pint-sized package and while a little tame with the cherry red graphic content, director Michael McQuown seizes the opportunity to instill an open faucet of fear rather than tease with gore and sleaze with sex. If I had to recommend a horror anthology for 2017, “The Dark Tapes” would be on the very short list.

”Fear comes home again” Resident Evil 7 reveal trailer.

Well the Sony E3 conference just ended and all I have to say is wow. Just wow. Yes you read the title right, Resident Evil 7 was revealed with a very interesting trailer. When the trailer started I had absolutely no idea what it was about, then when it picked up and threw that awesome Resident Evil logo on the screen I couldn’t help but to jump and cheer.

Resident Evil 7 is the seventh installment in the main Resident Evil franchise. It is of course being developed by Capcom and will be released on PS4, XBOX ONE, and PC on January 24, 2017. This trailer is very interesting and I have to admit that I probably watched it about 50 times. I’ve noticed many people complaining about how different it looks from the others and I have to agree that it does, but so did Resident evil 4. Which ended up being one of the best in the series, so I would say that everyone should relax and wait until we get more information about the game. But as for me, I am incredibly excited and I salute you Capcom for going back to horror.

Good Night, Good Luck. Dying Light is out now!

Dying-Light

 

The most anticipated zombie game of the year is now out! Dying Light is a first person zombie horror game that takes place in a overrun city that has been blocked off from the outside world. Survivors must work together or fight against each other to reach the air drop supply crates in order to survive.

Dying Light is now available on XBOX ONE, Playstation 4, and PC

Outlast: A refreshing entry in the survival horror genre

Outlast-logo-PS4-image

 

Today in gaming there is a genre that is lacking and that is survival horror. After the golden age of horror games during the playstation 1 & 2 era, horror games are no longer the norm. Today all we have is the same recycled shooters that have little to no innovation. Even Capcom the company that made survival horror into a genre with its acclaimed Resident evil franchise, has taken the dark path and has destroyed the beloved horror series. But there is no need to give up hope yet. In the last few years we have seen a rising in indie horror games come out (mostly on PC) and has shown that there is still a horror fan base in gaming. Games like Amnesia: The dark descent, Slender and many others have kept the horror genre in the field but there is one game that I have played recently that has given me my survival horror fix and that game is Outlast.

Outlast is a 2013 First person survival horror game. Developed and Published by Red Barrels and was released on PC, Plastation 4 and  XBOX ONE.

The game’s plot is rather simple. You play as  freelance journalist  Miles Upshur who after an anonymous tip, travels to a remote psychiatric hospital located deep in the mountains of Colorado. There Miles must find out what dark secrets the Hospital holds. The story line of the game is not very long depending on the difficulty you play. If you play it on normal then the game will last you from 5 to 6 hours of game play. In the game you are only equipped with a camcorder and must use the camera’s night vision to navigate through the dark halls of the Asylum. The camera does have a battery life so in order to keep it running you must find batteries located around the Asylum. There is absolutely NO weapons in this game, in order for you to survive you must run and hide from the  homicidal inmates that roam the asylum. This makes the game very suspenseful and very nerve-racking, not to mention that the inmates will become more aggressive each time they are alerted of your whereabouts.

Moving on from game play, Outlast has the most terrifying atmosphere I have seen in a horror game in years. From the bright lit rooms with corpses and blood covering the floor to dark, run down cell blocks which are still inhabited by crazed inmates, you will have the feeling you are not alone and that there is always something around the corner. Most of the scares in Outlast mostly depend on the environment. Sure there may be some jump scares here and there but the environment around you supplies the feeling of fear you have while playing. To add to the atmosphere of the game, Outlast has a very good soundtrack. Both terrifying and relaxing depending on the situation you are in.

Now onto the performance of the game. If you are planning to get it on PC (which I highly recommend) then you have no worries the game does not require a huge rig on steroids, but just to be safe please check the game’s requirements. I currently run the game on my laptop which has a intel core i5 processor, 8gb of ram, 500gb hard drive, and Intel HD 4400 graphics card; and I am able to play the game on maxed settings with 40 to 50 fps.

If you miss the good old days of horror back on PS1 and PS2 then I highly recommend Outlast. It has everything you need for a late night scare. Outlast is now available for PC, Playstation 4, and XBOX ONE for $19.99 as well as the Whistleblower expansion for $9.99.