Defy EVIL to Live! “Alone” reviewed! (Magnet Releasing / Digital Screener)

Six months after the suicide of her husband, Jessica struggles to cope living in the city that holds too many fond memories of her once happy life with her husband.  Jessica packs her things and quickly drives out to the wilderness, separating herself from the city as well as her unsupportive parents.   On the road, she encounters an incessant man following her every track before violently kidnapping her and hiding her away in a bare room of an isolated cabin deep within the woods.  Her escape opposes her not only against a calculating captor hot in pursuit, but also against nature’s unforgiving elements, showing little mercy to Jessica’s dire and desperate getaway. 

From eluding the flesh hungry, running zombies of Syfy’s “Z-Nation” and Netflix’s “Black Summer,” director John Hyams has us fleeing once again for our very lives against a more realistic monster in his upcoming abduction thriller, “Alone.” Screenwriter Mattias Olsson takes a backseat from directing “Alone,” which is a remake of his written and co-directed 2011 Swedish film, “Gone,” paralleling the premise about a woman fleeing a family tragedy only to be followed and kidnapped by a man driving a SUV.  Shot in Oregon’s silvan outskirts, “Alone” is a survival thriller with emerging themes of taking back one’s life in more ways than one and no more running from an unbearable past built into a conceivable terror situation that has unfortunately been a common episode all over the globe.  “Alone” will be the second feature film produced under Mill House Motion Pictures, under the supervision of founders Jordan Foley and Jonathan Rosenthal, the latter having a small role in the film, and is also a film from a second Jordan Foley company, Paperclip Limited, who has Lisa Simpson voice actress herself, Yeardley Smith, as one of the active partners, and, lastly, in association with XYZ Films.

The up and coming young actress, Jules Willcox (“Dreamkatcher”) stars in the lead of Jessica who hasn’t have a friend in the world, alienating herself from her former life and her parents with a sudden escape to the Oregon wilderness.  The physically demanding role withstands the brunt of constant attack, whether from Marc Menchaca’s unnamed assailant character or the natural elements of the forest that include from the massive rapid rivers and torrential rains to the smallest of roots that spear her bare feet while on the run.  Willcox also brings to the role an indistinct mindset, jumbled with the lingering and complicated suicide of Jessica’s husband, paranoia, and an instinctual reaction to survive, especially through Willcox’s eyes that arch from fear to fortitude.  To really envelope Willcox in that unwarranted fear of harm and pushing her character into the unknown of the adversarial complex that is mother nature is Marc Menchaca as a conniving creep looking to do as much pleasurable damage on his bogus business trip as possible.  Menchaca also looks the part, resembling an out of place 70’s-80’s serial killer with round thin-framed glasses and a moderately bushy handlebar mustache overtop a sturdy frame.  Now while these attributes are not indicative to just serial killers, they sure as hell work well on screen to really sell the intensity that Menchaca delivers as a faux Ned Flanders type nice guy, a sheep in a wolf’s clothing so to speak, who acts a lure against his prey before venomously striking.  The small cast rounds out with Anthony Heald of the Anthony Hopkins “Hannibal” films in a small, yet uncharacteristic, good guy role as a hunter caught in the middle of Jessica’s situation.

While suicide might be the catalyst that compels Jessica to drive into the middle of nowhere, Matthias and Hymans only utilize the power theme as an instrument against Jessica’s psyche.  Jessica runs and hides from polite and comfortable society, but the recently widowed soon discovers that she can’t outrun her past as she hits a perverse wall constructed in the form of a man of sordid pleasures and sociopathic tendencies.  Her kidnapper becomes, in a way, her therapist who, at one point, pins her to the ground and scrolls through the personal photos on her tablet, forcing her to talk about her husband up to the point of his death, and consistently throughout the film that his actions were cowardly, removing the blame from her and onto him while emphasizing her tremendous guilt for not seeing the signs earlier.  “Alone” blossoms a wildly curative dynamic that encourages Jessica to then defend herself and her husband’s memory by standing up against not only the man’s relentless chase, but also her guilt.  The thick Oregon setting becomes a security blanket, sheathing her endless dismay, but the forest is actually does more harm than good for Jessica.  Only when does Jessica steps into a wide clearing of lumberjacked tree stumps does hiding from all the pain and torment become no longer an option as she makes her last stand against her attacker, unloading her fear, anger, and guilt upon the man by exposing him as an oppressive killer. While immersed in watching, “Alone” will deprive oxygen from your body that’s desperately gasping to fill your lungs with air in every harrowing chapter, but “Alone” is a breadth with a throng of digging out of despair overtones and a conduit for self-repair that’s unraveled symbolically through the afflictions of bona fide sadism.

“Alone” rises above the call of arms against predatory men in this thrilling remake from John Hyams, releasing into Theaters and VOD on September 18th from Magnet Releasing. The rated R, 98 minute feature will not have the A/V specs critique due to the digital screener, but Federico Verardi (“Z-Nation”) grasps the elegant threat of the woods by using drone shots to shoot the very tippy-top of the swaying trees that conceal the ground, as if obscuring the atrocity being committed below, and applying low-contrast to make insidious hard shadows against green lush that turn beauty dark and deceitful. *Director John Hyams has noted the rapid’s scene where Jessica temps fate to escape her pursuer was practical and performed by stuntwoman Michelle Damis and though looked a little off around the Jessica’s unsubmerged profile as she’s whisked away down the river, the effect is 100% legit. “The Pyramid” and “Becky’s” Nima Fakhrara scores a low-impact tremble for most of the feature with Jessica’s running through the woods is accompanied an equally low-impact drumming, letting the ebb and flow of resonating forest ambience engulf much of the soundtrack to solidify it as a correlative character; even the end credits is purely nature’s ambient noise. Since “Alone” is a brand new feature, there were no bonus material or bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Alone” knicks the core of vulturine power, but turns the tables toward more feminist revelation to fight and take back one’s life.

*Correction: Previously stated the rapids scene was CGI.

 

Pornstar Priya Rai Couldn’t Erect this Evil! “Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy” review!

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King Osiris and his black magic queen Isis rule ancient Egypt and were beloved by all. All except Osiris’s brother Set whose envy led to the murderous slain of Osiris. Isis, heartbroken and vengeful, tries to use her black magic to rise Osiris from the grave and seek revenge on all who wished their demise. In the middle of Isis’s ritual, Set interrupts and decides to dismember his brother’s body in order for the ritual not come to fruition and snaps Isis’s neck to ensure his will, but Isis’s vow to return and curse anyone who stands in her way. Present day, a college research group along side an Egyptian historian stay overnight at a closed history museum to study closely lost Egyptian artifacts. Isis’s spirit is accidentally released from her sarcophagus and seeks to finish what she began by taking the body parts from the research students in order to reconstruct the body her love Osiris and put the world into an eternal damnation.

“Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy” resembles the much loved late night Cinemax skin flicks without any of the nudity or the sex. All the elements are there: busty women, bad acting, and the underlined plot that is overshadowed by the soft core love scenes. From the DVD cover and the two well established porno industry actors in this film, one would, without a doubt, conclude that “Isis Rising” would fall right into the middle of that sleazy category. What the Lisa Palenica directed film is is a C-movie production that attempts to take itself seriously in the horror genre with completed results that are whole-heartedly felt in micro-budget, non-horrific, and non-stimulating, efforts.
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Priya Rai is a big busted porn star of Indian background and she headlines the film as the vengeful Isis and while Priya isn’t riding the big Egyptian camel hump, her role is severely limited in dialogue and in on screen appearances. Isis’s powers include turning into a digestible body inhabiting mist, fireball conjuring, and teleportation, but Isis’s real threats are her massive chest bombs – bigger and pointier than the great Egyptian pyramids themselves. To be technical about the film’s title, Isis isn’t even a mummy. Yet the film’s subtitle is “Curse of the Lady Mummy.” The definition of mummy is the preservation of the body by removing internal organs and treat the body with resins and wraps. Isis is more like a spiritual demon and this oil should ought to be bettered labeled and regarded as “Curse of the Lady Egyptian” rather than “Curse of the Lady Mummy.” That is, if you wanted to be technical.
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James Bartholet, mainly a supporting actor in all those XXX parody movies, makes his presence felt as the bumbling and perverted security guard Harry. The rest of the cast is rounded out with relatively unknowns with minor film credits to their names. Director Lisa Palenica also had a role in the film as Felicia, the goth girl who probably received one of the better death scenes in the movie. The characters are a rather stereotypical horror ensemble. There is the jock, the nerd, the hot chick, her goth-hipster friend, the nerdy asian girl, and pot head who ends up smoking the resurrection essence that awakens Isis from her slumber dooming all to savagry, as well as seductively, of detaching limbs and heads from the characters’ bodies. The only character that has girth and background value is Isis with her tragic backstory filled with treachery and black magic. Killing off characters is a lot more understandable when there is a motive.
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The special effects are truly shameful, especially in a time where CGI has been perfected to the point where anybody with a Mac computer can create stunning effects. “Isis Risings” doesn’t even seem to try by implementing seriously awkward post-CGI effects, Halloween prop store plastic severed limbs, and even going as far as adding in fake exhaled smoke from our essence-high smokers. Some of the Egyptian scenes in the beginning reminded me of how Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 looked on a Sega Genesis console with the still background and the engaged, superimposed fighters. Some of the more practical effects where encouraging, but only a few scenes had those types of effects.
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“Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy” resurrects another disappointment in the ever-failing Egyptian related horror genre. When will Brendan Frasier’s “The Mummy” ever be dethroned? Perhaps Alexandre Aja’s “The Pyramid” will be the next ruler of such said genre. Tom Cat Films, a production company much like Asylum Entertainment, develops the film into reality but “Isis” fails to wrap itself into a neat little mummified package of terror. I would rather have seen more of Priya Rai conducting ominously seductive measures in her quest of blood and resurrection and a little more effort in the effects, because if you’re going to have a porn star headline your film, you might as well go all Sasha Grey-out and make the experience worth wild. But don’t take my word for it and judge for yourself by heading over to MVDVisual and purchasing “Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy.”