It’s in Human Nature to be Evil. “It Comes At Night” review!


Set in an infectious diseased post-apocalypse world, Paul, his wife Sarah, and their son Travis have fortified themselves in a dense forested and isolated house to ride out the easily spreadable disease. Always prepared and ever suspicious, Paul expects everyone to follow a rigorous routine, following procedures in order to avoid becoming infected, but when a young family, seeking supplies and refuge, enters their lives and their home despite Paul’s hesitations. Paul’s family’s routine and order face disruption that opens themselves up to the ever present danger outside and inside their home.

“It Comes at Night” is an intense, heart-pounding mystery thriller set inside the close quartered confines of a desolate house where trust doesn’t come without auspicious interrogation and teeth clinching suspicion. Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore feature has layers upon layers of underlying human nature undertones when people are put up against an unsurvivable situation inevitably with their backs against the wall, literally, when confronted to whether to implement the good will nature of their humanity or not, to take that risk to help others or to save their own skin, and to attempt to reconnect with other people or stay separate from the masses. Even the “it” in “It Comes at Night” isn’t as simple as one would first think. Most unfamiliar audiences would assume “it” is a snarling, brooding, oozing, and grotesque creature, or perhaps even a devilishly grinning clown, that comes around when the sun falls; instead, the “it” is an occurrence, an event sparking nightmares inside the human mind that formulates fear and a tall order of exemplary caution.

The Australian born Joel Edgerton (“The Thing” remake) stars as Paul, the father of the family he’s trying to protect at all costs. Edgerton perfectly pitches as a, supposed, American voice, since the story doesn’t exclaim a locality, but the assumption is the setting is nowhere, U.S.A, and plants a firm foot down as a rugged resident of wilderness survival accompanied by his wife Sarah played by Alien: Covenant’s Carmen Ejogo. Ejogo’s offering to her character gives Sarah a powerful will to do what’s necessary and to support Paul in his determination to protect their only son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Edgerton, Ejogo, and Harrison opposite up well against the foreign element, another family with their performer genetic makeup of Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, and Griffin Robert Faulkner as Will, Kim, and their just above toddling son, Andrew. Each actor embraces the role in their respective family and at first, the interactions are genuinely jovial, but then the uncomfortable thick tension evolves from the point of an extreme pivot into the folds of deception and fear.

Shults maintains an ominous atmosphere of overwhelming strain amongst the characters and “It Comes at Night” has a unique perspective set inside an already apocalyptic ravaged population despite the lack visual expositions. Yet, the finished project feels incomplete. Pacing is the biggest concern with the timing of events between the introduction of Will’s family and their destined downfall that results in a climax that’s so bellied-up in an sorely anti-climatic fashion that the notion of being cheated out of a more gut-punched ending pulls at the core of the cinematic soul. That’s not to say that the film has one, if not more, interpretations; in fact, Shults’ entire feature is or could be considered open for interpretation, with examples from the duly noted “red door” to the Travis’ child-like personality, and usually those types of heavily subtext films stick around more way after the credits roll, but also, in a slightly bittersweet cause and effect, leaves more of a foggy formulation of events during the unfolding of the story. Also, an aspect that didn’t help the cause was shying away from a powerful scenes that should have left an impact, but R-rated feature delivered no acute moments of remembrance and leaving much to the imagination with only the majority of the rating pie being flavored with tasteless language.

Lionsgate Entertainment presents the Animal Kingdom and A24 produced “It Comes at Night” on a 1080p resolution in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The imagery lavishes in a gritty, woodsy detail that organically defines the sea of trees and natural flesh tones, but as the title suggests, most scenes are shot at night that are moderately blanketed, yet ineffectively intrusive, in digital noise. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix definitely has more girth during the livid nightmares and vigorously tense scenes, but, surprisingly, the dialogue track lacks gusto in the wake of a more lively surround quality. During exchanges of hushed tones, dialogue is rendered nearly inaudible and the option English subtitles had to be deployed. Spanish subtitles are also available. Special features include an audio commentary by writer-director Trey Edward Shults and actor Kelvin Williams Jr and a cast and crew discourse in a segment entitled “Human Nature: Creating ‘It Comes at Night.'” Overall, the psychological and humanity breakdown of the characters of “It Comes at Night” is worth the price of admission along with the teachings that family is key and to never rely on the goodwill of strangers, but finishes with a weak sense of direction that ruptures an unsavory cyst that doesn’t conclude coherently.

Own It Comes at Night on Blu-ray!

Subletting Manager is an Evil Shrew!  “The Resident”review!


Joanna and her fiance, Geoff, enter a sublet agreement sight unseen. With her fiance being a struggling actor with gigs teetering on the line and domineering most of his time, Joanna struggles to find ways to pass the day alone in her apartment on unpaid maternity leave. The creepy, unwelcoming apartment doesn’t feel like home when Joanna has yet see another living soul in the building, but hears footsteps on the next floor above, violent wall banging thumps next door, and extremely unpleasant dreams that seem to cause her to lose time in reality. When Geoff neglects her pleads to leave the sublet, Joanna becomes enthralled with a newfound journal from an off limits room and as soon as she starts to read from the pages, her life in the apartment strangely follows a parallel path of the journal’s previous owner, a house wife named Margaret, that leads to jeopardizing everything Joanna knows:  her sanity, her husband, and her baby.

“The Resident,” aka “The Sublet” as known in other parts of the world, is the debut psychological horror directed by the writer of “Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer,” John Ainslie, who also co-wrote the script with Alyson Richards. The 2015 film is also produced by Chad Archibald, whose name might sound familiar if you’re a regular reader of this review website where you can read about interesting horror feature films like “The Resident.” Archibald helmed the body horror delicacy “Bite” the same year. Together, the qualified credential crew steps up to a challenge with “The Resident” that, on the surface, appears to be another run-of-the-mill tired premise of a young couple coping with a malevolent presence and with a common subplot involving a stay-at-home mom being the unfortunate victim. Ainslie and Richards, obviously, go through the stages of that realm, knocking down the expected pillars of conventionalism, but the duo do touch upon a couple of things. For one, they make “The Resident” very interesting and entertaining by seriously messing with Joanna’s state of mind, forcing her to question every little aspect of her mundane existence in that small sublet. The second thing is is that the whole story can be seen a metaphor for postpartum depression that’s driving psychosis right into the thick of Joanna’s unhappiness. More than once, Joanna mentions how ugly she feels and she becomes overly jealous of Geoff’s ex-girlfriend, even if rightfully so.

“Bite’s” Tianna Nori gluttonously takes on Joanna’s dwelling punishment. Nori’s par performance sells sufficiently, but doesn’t completely enthrall Joanna into the depths of madness, leaving a rather tame aftertaste. The same can be said for Mark Matechuk, who plays opposite to Nori with Geoff. His struggling actor shoes fit his two-bit stiff and starchy outfit, but Matechuk and Nori do work well together even if some scenes feel forced and scripted. By far, Rachel Sellan was my least favorite of the three main actors with her portrayal of a snobby, yet beautiful, ex-girlfriend of Geoff’s. A world built solely on the inner walls of the apartment, literally 95% of the film is inside this constructed sublet, has more personality and life than the organic material composing an orchestrated dialogue and I personally don’t blame the cast. I believe the sublet, the construed presence, subversively overshadows the intended characters. Krista Madison, James Murray, Mark Ettlinger, and Jeff Sinasac make up the supporting cast.

“The Resident” has modest effects that spur mostly off screen, but on the rate instance when mise-en-scene effects happened, they didn’t go unnoticed. “The Resident” brought and delivered the appropriate psychological nightmares associated with brain-warping spirits, shelling out an introverted dreaminess in Joanna that only she could experience with those unfortunate family and foes surrounding her witnessing only the outer chaos. Sometimes the story gets lost in itself when attempting to further Joanna’s skewed circumstances. Is Joanna dead already? The answer is possibly.  Every external scene of the apartment building or even the brief scenes of Joanna with the stroller sets the moments in dreary rain and when going further into the film, Joanna is no longer able to leave the apartment. She even becomes a part of her own missing person’s investigation conducted by two belligerent cops, played venomously by Mark Ettlinger and Jeff Sinasac, who inform Joanna that her family hasn’t heard from her in days.  It’s the final scene that sets the whole rest of the film in stone, that solidifies Joanna’s mental state, and yet the simple moment still leaves questions and reflection. That’s a considerable tall tell sign of good story telling from Ainslie and Richards.

Canadian production company, Black Fawn Films, headed by Chad Archibald have another successful odious anecdote in their arsenal of horror and the company has quickly gained momentum in becoming a juggernaut in sustainable low-budget horror. Second Sight will be heading the home distribution portion of the title with a May 22nd release onto DVD and On Demand. Unfortunately, a press DVD-R was provided and the audio and video qualities can’t be commented on nor can any critique on the bonus material. John Anislie has the tools and the means to labor a chilling trap of supernatural spookiness.  With a cast of similar caliber, “The Resident” would have made it higher on the list, but manages to keep a solid bleep on the radar when the next scene always begged the question – what’s going to happen next?

When Evil Lurks Outside… “Never Open the Door” review!

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Six friends break bread for the holidays in a remote woodsy cabin. As their jovial and joyful conversation continues, a wicked evil lurks in the forest. A sudden and harsh knock at the door confuses the group on who would be calling at their isolated retreat and at the late hour. When Tess volunteers to answer the knocking, a stranger spews blood all over her and falls to the ground as she opens the door. With his dying breath, the aging stranger warns them to never open the door. stunned with complete shock and terror, the group doesn’t realize that the very moment the strange dies on their doorstep is the very moment of the beginning of the end as weird occurrences and odd behavior pits friend versus friend, girlfriend versus boyfriend, and spouse versus spouse when staying or fleeing the cabin becomes a life or death decision.
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“Never Open the Door” strikes as an odd feature that marries projecting horror genres with resurrecting structures from the past into modern times. The Vito Trabucco directed 2014 released film, who also had producer Christopher Maltauro collaborate on to pen the script, stirs up vintage Alfred Hitchcock cinematography craftwork and mirrors the enigmatic nature of particular and peculiar “Twilight Zone” episodes. Trabucco and director of cinematographer Joe Provenzano voids the film of color to encompass the mood of bygone black and white thrillers and employs composer Carlos Vivas to enchant the story with a classically engaging score that embellishes upon harrowing pivotal moments in the story. Vivas and Trabucco have a prior working relationship under Trabucco’s previous nunsploitation slasher “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp.”
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Vito Trabucco casted his staple entourage of actors. If you’ve ever seen “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp,” you’ll recognize many faces with the exclusion of George Troester, who plays the crude, unhitched Terrence. However, Troester does fit into the whole seven degrees of Kevin Bacon theory, being a co-star in “Crack Whore” along side Kristina Page and Steven Richards, Angel and The Stranger in their respective roles. Contemporary scream queen Jessica Sonneborn, the lead actress in “Never Open the Door’s” quasi-dual Tess performance, has a director’s credit under her name for her work on “The Haunting of Alice D” starring the iconic Kane Hodder. The 2014 film also rostered supporting actresses Kristina Page and Deborah Venegas, who portrays in Trabucco’s film as Maria, Luke’s wife. Luke is portrayed by Mike Wood with fellow “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp” co-star Matt Aidan as Angel’s fiance. Whew. Overall, the actors click as a group with a dinner room dynamic that’s natural with slightly pretentious moments that don’t really kill the mood. When the story ramps up, performances start to dwindle and overacting starts to unfold. Mike Wood absolutely murders the shower performance with ghastly exposition, but, again, this might be playing the retro card. Sonnerborn does well as the headliner. Her demon-like twin dominates, but just didn’t receive much screen presence in measly 66 minute runtime.
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Continuing with the Tess demon, the black and white style fortunately masks most of the low budget special effects with the aid of some great uses of silhouettes and editing. Evil Tess’s pudgy demon sausage fingers dressed with cheap plastic looking fingernail attachments couldn’t fool a fool that they’re razor sharp, but with jagged teeth and glowing eyes encircled by a pitch black ring, she’s a nightmare inducing boogeywoman. Aside from a pair of demonic dispatches with one involving the razor blade finger caps, the effects were safely contained inside the realm of an independent feature. A few spurts of black blood and a handful of stabbings share a common bound of having being what remains of the effects which were executed well enough to serve the intended purpose. Mostly, “Never Open the Door” relied heavily on editing. Editing that involves characters’ hallucinating future or past events, attributing their frantic confusion and life threatening situation toward an endless loop of purgatory.
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Yes, the characters are afflicted with a hell on repeat, switching identities on a continuous horizon that leaves fragments of prior rebroadcasts. From gathering information about the characters, none of them strike me as a damned souls. Tess is a veterinarian who performs the occasional neutering and spade and dates a man nearly twice her age. Terrence just doesn’t want to grow up, but no skeletons appeared from out of his closet. The couples, Angel and Isaac and Luke and Maria, grow suspicious of each others’ intentions that involve jealousy, paranoia, and hatred. Unlike a “Twilight Episode,” “Never Open the Door” leaves open doors of unsolved questions, such as answering the question of how the group came to acquire the house. Before the abrupt knock at the door, the person who located the isolated question seemed to befuddle the entire group. Another loose end lies with the person texting Luke messages about an illicit affair his wife’s having with one of their friends. Again, the loop doesn’t quite close on this interesting caveat.
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Maltauro Entertainment presents in association with Baumant Entertainment the Vito Trabucco film “Never Open the Door” on Blu-ray. Unrated in a HD 1080p, the widescreen 1.78:1 is delectably sharp on a BD-25, but that really isn’t a surprise here with a black and white feature barely over a hour long. However, black-upon-black scenes define the Blu-ray with a low bitrate, displaying some blotchy, compression issues. Audio quality is quite fair. Carlos Vivas score channels through a Dolby Digital dual output that caters, again, to a vintage replication, but in creating an atmospheric feature, having surround sound would have boosted the result tenfold. The dialogue is a bit wish-washy, pending on the scene and character positioning, but forefront evident in the quality and that is what really matters. English subtitles are also available. “Never Open the Door” has grand potential in a small package, but trips over it’s own inconsistencies with erratic editing and walled details. Director Vito Trabucco’s vision in modernizing classic techniques and styles merely becomes just that, a vision, and was inches, or rather seconds, away from opening the door for potentially a far greater anxiety-riddled psychological thriller.

“Never Open the Door” on Blu-ray, DVD, and Video on Demand!

Evil Never Breaks, But Your Mind Will! “The ID” review

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Feeling trapped inside her own childhood home, middle-aged Meredith Lane is stuck caring for her elderly and abusive father. Unable to live a life of her own beyond the house’s closing-in walls, Meredith uses her memories of her youth to create a world toward which she can escape. A world involving past loves, spinning them into what could have been, but as the years slip by and her youth fades in stasis, hope for a normal way of life seeps from her grasp…the same with reality. Meredith continues to humor her father’s oppressively verbal and physical mistreatment, sacrificing to his everlasting grip and blackmailed for when she tries to stand up for herself. When her judgement finally breaks down from complete desolation, the lines blur between what’s fantasy and what’s real. When a routine delivery woman starts to suspect Meredith’s instability in the midst of her father’s abrupt absence, Meredith’s real and fantastical world begins to crumble under the first, fine line cracks of psychosis.
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“The ID” is a 2015 psychological narrative thriller from the “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and “His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th” documentarian producer Thommy Hutson. To keep with the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” theme, Amanda Wyss, who portrays Tina in the original Wes Craven film, headlines as the lonely and disturbed Meredith Lane, the sole caretaker of her limit pushing father, played unnervingly by an unkempt and unsympathetic Patrick Peduto. Initially, you have to compassionately feel for Meredith’s situation as her father, whether intentionally or not, absolutely tortures and demeans her to the fullest extent, but when getting down to the brass tax, Meredith has always held her father’s life in her hands. All she needs to do is act.
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When Meredith’s quasi-levelness with reality is finally pushed over the brink, she does act, snapping toward a tone setting second half of the story that’s arguably more disturbing than her combative relationship between Meredith and her father. “The ID” morphs into full blown psychological horror and, not that Hutson’s film wasn’t a terror of the mind before, Meredith completely crosses that thick defined line between her father and her gentlemen caller from the past. These opposition of two worlds are in the beginning stages of a collision in which both can’t exist in the same space that’s familiar to a presentist perspective. Huston works diligently to deliver the inner workings of Meredith’s psyche, lingering her father’s vocal presence throughout the story even if his physical form vacates, and merging her wondrous past into an antagonistic present.
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Amanda Wyss has a multifaceted performance that shouldn’t go without stating and Wyss should be praised for her representation of suffering from a delusional mental disorder, originating either from a family history, in this case her father’s state is quite the example, or from other external influences. Both factors could have contributed and Wyss’ precision in the character makes the result difficult to split the two possible origins for her breakdown. Wyss’s performance becomes overshadowed only by the fierce acting by Patrick Peduto, creating an uncomfortable hostile interaction that’s so alien to a father and daughter relationship, it should be illegal. There’s a lot of hate, disgust, regret, shame, and mistrust from Peduto’s character that one can certainly assume Meredith’s father is a few cards short of a full deck and Meredith’s intentions could have been absolutely sane. Only one character wasn’t impressive in the whole ordeal lies with Tricia played by Jamye Grant. The delivery care character felt overwritten to be the catalyst; her obsessiveness for Meredith and her father, as she notes getting close to the couple, felt right up there at stalker level with unnecessary cause and effect to bring Meredith in more trouble than she’s already in. Grant did what should could to absolve the character from being obscenely forthright, but Tricia’s unable to pull back just enough to allow comfortable separation of a concerned citizen.
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CAV Releasing’s of the 87 minute runtime Blu-ray of “The ID” from the production companies Ranch Media and Panic Ventures is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio on a single BD-25 disc. The presentation doesn’t spin much of a colorful offering that’s slightly dull without a pop or a splash of vivid hues sans the split psychosis scenes that are hefty in blue while overly exposed. Prevalent details are far more unusually blotchy, glossy, and scattered under the lower bitrate encoding that isn’t necessarily noticeable because of the setting being isolated to just Meredith’s childhood home. “The ID” isn’t an action heavy or scenic riddled film that requires much detail. Under the Dolby Digital 5.0 mix, a fair amount of unmistakable clarity and range emits fully through each channel with solid LFE and balanced tracks to level out the video quality woes. An option for a LPCM 2.0 is also available. Plentiful bonus features include a feature length commentary with director Thommy Hutson and star Amanda Wyss, an interview featurette entitled Needs, Wants, & Desires, intercut behind-the-scenes segment, alternate and deleted scenes, audition footage, and official stills and trailer. Thommy Hutson’s “The ID” is far from his usually schtick of horror documentaries, but clearly showcases the director’s talents within the psychological horror subgenre and will be the building blocks of his narrative directorial career.

“The ID” on Blu-ray. It’s cheap psychological horror!

“Blood is Blood” Going into the Family Scrapbook this September!

Multicom Entertainment Group is releasing psychological family horror “Blood is Blood,” the first digital acquisition from under the horror banner channel “ThrillGoreTV.” “Blood is Blood” release will be on digital HD and VOD September 1st! Sooner than you think!

“For privileged siblings Brie, Daniel, Crew and Jess family has always come first. But when Crew (Danile DiTomasso) invites his girlfriend Sara (Kate French) into the family, distrust begins to bubble between the siblings. Seeing Sara as a threat, Brie grows spiteful and suspicious that she is being replaced… That is until the night Crew attempts to murder her in their family house. Traumatized, Brie is sent to a mental facility where she is tormented by hallucinations of Crew from the night of the attack. But when the visions begin to bleed into reality, Brie starts to fear that it’s not just her sanity that’s in danger, and she flees the facility. In a frantic attempt to return to her remaining siblings and warn them, Brie begins to uncover a trail of gory, sinister secrets that leads her to question whether she knows her family as well as she thought.”

Freshman film of writer-director Stuart Sauvarin and stars Fiona Dourif (daughter of iconic Brad Dourif), Kate French, Daniel DiTomassee, Andrew James Allen, Tessa Harnetiaux, and Caitlin Harris. Website: http://www.bloodisblood-movie.com/

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