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By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 06:01PM



Review - Crucible of the Vampire


The reign of vampire movies has slowed down in recent years due to a new breed of superhumans on the block. It’s apparent though, that this genre has not been forgotten.


Crucible of the vampire grabbed my attention for three reasons.


The opening scene. To set the tone of the movie, we’re introduced to an elderly gentleman stirring a pot in the woods by a creek. The story quickly develops when a band of witch hunters suspect the gentleman of performing necromancy.


This whole sequence is done in stark black and white. It could have benefitted from a few reflectors on set, as the details in some faces were completely lost. However, one scene, only lasting a second, which struck with me with awe, was when the gentleman was branded with a hot poker. The embers flickered in colour. The excitement of something so visually unexpected in the first three minutes threw me right into the story and I was eager to continue.


Jump to present day and we’re introduced to Isabelle, a museum curator tasked with verifying a piece of cauldron in a remote Stately manor in Shropshire. The family within the house are seemingly inviting, except for Scarlet, the daughter.


In a let’s-break-the-ice kind of evening dinner, the family’s strange dynamic is revealed. The acting was cold and lacked fluidity and I couldn’t help but imagine these guys had only just met behind the camera earlier that day. This was both unsettling and noticeable; there was no real chemistry made between the main actors in the first place.


That’s not to say they didn’t try. Katie Goldfinch, who played Isabelle, completely blew me away in the third act when she’s tied up and held against her will. Therein lays my second reason as to why this film engrossed me.


This particular scene was shot with Isabelle in a frantic, animalistic panic over all that had happened. Not only did the fast paced editing induce hysteria and leave you just as off balance as Isabelle, but also the surreal colours and offset music inspired a quicker heart rate than usual. This was the scene I was waiting for in amongst this slow paced movie.


As for the interior of the house; whether it was made to look this way or it was simply how it originally was, the house gave you chills.


There is nothing warm about the place and even if the house looked clean, you could feel dust everywhere. It was genuinely a perfect place for such a story to flourish, and only later in the film do you see more hidden layers of it.


The characters, however, remained two-dimensional. It could have had something to do with the costumes, or lack thereof. Even though it was set in present day and the need for modern clothing was apparent, the counterpart historical scenes were rich in the outfit department.


I would’ve liked to have seen a more subtle connection to the past. Instead, the only thing that connected them to the history of events was the cauldron and the obviously ominous black robes. The music was unnecessary at times. Some scenes would have benefitted more from pure silence to further enhance the feeling of remoteness. Harsh violins and deep cellos became a distraction at the wrong time.


The film failed to allow the audience’s imagination to ascend and develop, but instead the story was served straight up with no satisfaction of conceptualising anything for ourselves. This was especially apparent when an important character known as the “dark lady” would appear. Full ghoulish makeup, big black wig and scary unblinking eyes. If there was supposed to be shock value, it wasn’t there.


This leads me to my third and final premise on why I advanced deeper into the movie. With the dark lady, there was a genuinely creepy moment. This scene was layered with only hints of light, shot at night of course. It worked because so much was left to the imagination. When the dark lady unnervingly walks down the stairs, your eyes are fixated on Isabelle playing the organ. With an unknown source of light, your eyes suddenly dart to the lady coming from the shadows and then disappear again. The effect of having less really did mean more.


With the film’s genre almost forgotten, it was nice to be reminded that vampires aren’t dead yet. A more minimalistic approach to the sound would’ve matched the visuals well, and a deeper connection between characters could’ve driven the story deeper. The film is worth watching for some excellent stand-alone scenes as they are spread out evenly across the movie.


★★ ½


Sammy

By midlandsmovies, Jan 29 2019 02:58PM



The Chase (2018)


Fight Club production in association with Five Pence Productions.


Directed by Nisaro Karim & Sam Malley. Written by Nisaro Karim


A trio of contract criminals are assigned a case whereby they must steal a Christmas present from an empty household, only the job doesn’t turn out to be quite as straightforward as they had anticipated.


Sometimes I see films and I have to admire the potential they showed, even if they don’t quite hit the mark in terms of their execution. What Sam Malley and Nisaro Karim have created with The Chase is something that is a very solid foundation for what could go on to be a well-developed concept should they continue to invest in it.


What piques my interest most here is the premise and the number of questions it raises for the viewer. First and foremost, we have a story that centres around the bad guys, which is never a bad thing in my eyes. Generally speaking, the dodgier the character, the more intriguing the narrative tends to be. The thing with villains is they’re grafters. They always have to work hard, whereas the heroes - no matter how high the odds may be stacked against them - they always seem to come out on top with little or no hardship.


So the fact that I’m straightaway presented with two not-so-good characters as the front runners here tells me that the filmmakers also acknowledge this in some way, and I can appreciate that. What I think would be beneficial is that, going forward, how these people got to be where they are today gets explored.


To be able to get inside the head of a villain is always a fascinating thing, and would absolutely add layers of depth to what is a promising blueprint. Add to this the fact that little notes are added throughout the story with the intention of capturing attention and suddenly you have something that shows a lot of potential indeed. Some of these are a bit on the nose, for example, a package with content that remains a mystery from start to finish. However when you look at the bigger picture, it’s the slightly less obvious details that raise the bigger questions, which is another thing I was a fan of.


There were some moments that felt like they were supposed to be more comedic that didn’t hit the mark for me. For the most part, the downfall occurred in one of two ways. Either the generations involved in making the jokes didn’t fit, such as when there is the opening exchange between Dima and Daisy regarding Daisy’s Netflix viewing habits, or the responses to certain situations weren’t reactive enough, and were just too straight-laced.


Personally, I don’t think comedic elements are really needed here if I’m perfectly honest. I think out-and-out crime drama is the approach I’d prefer, and which I think would work better as getting the balance just right with lighter moments is hard and can carry some weight when it’s even just slightly off.


Overall, I do feel like there is a lot of potential there with The Chase, but it does need more development. Foundations are strong, but I think before any future projects are built upon them some of the writing could be tightened up a little bit, and it needs to have more confidence with whatever direction it is headed in.


There is a good idea here, and I think with the right amount of love it could grow into something great. It’s a work-in-progress, but definitely one where the bigger picture is worth keeping an eye on.


Kira Comerford


Twitter @FilmAndTV101


By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2019 09:19AM



Back in My Day


(2018)


Directed by James Foster


A gentle old man opens the door to a policeman who states he is under arrest in a riveting start to new film Back in My Day from local filmmaker James Foster.


In his first non-student directorial debut, James Foster introduces us to our lead – a Father Christmas-bearded senior citizen who does nothing more than hang out his washing to dry and talk about his bridge club games.


However, an ominous plaster on the gentleman’s head hints upon a recent accident in the man’s life and the film lets the audience uncover the details of the mystery in a reverse narrative technique.


Edited akin to Nolan’s Memento (2000), the film plays out in reverse chronological order with each scene being set slightly before the previous one, forcing us to act as investigator to put the pieces of this mysterious puzzle together ourselves.


A time stamp in the bottom left corner of each sequence keeps the viewer informed of the progress of things which also helps clarify the twisting story.


As our elderly protagonist asks if mobile phones can be tracked we are somewhat lulled into a sympathetic position where it is assumed the man may be returning the lost item. However, there is a much more sinister truth to the short as we start to see the scenes unravel.


[SPOILER] What is revealed is that the man is part of a cult who has kidnapped a teen. And whose robes echo the group from Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz in fact. Unlike that cloaked cult, this short isn’t played for laughs however. A final (technically first) shot of the old man leading astray his young victim after dropping bread rolls from his shopping – Hansel & Gretel anyone? – is a dark finale to an intriguing short.


The cast and crew of the film are based mostly in and around Lincoln, and the film itself was shot in Lincolnshire in the director’s home town of Scunthorpe keeping it suitably local. The 6-minute short tries to breathe new life into familiar themes, making our sympathies switch from pensioners being terrorised by your typical young hoodie-wearing tearaway to another horrific situation altogether.


Here the hoods are very much worn by the elderly group and the darkness is often just hinted upon in the short – but is an effective way of making your brain fill in the gaps.


An interesting dark puzzle of a film, Back in My Day plays on our notion of elderly victims and young perpetrators. And along with its different structure, delivers an effective story that inverts not just the narrative – but challenges our presumptions of certain groups to fantastic effect.


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2019 08:05AM



Midlands Spotlight - Snarl


Lightbeam Productions is reuniting with Pat The Bull Films, Brumtown Films and 5cm/Sec Films to produce SNARL, a terrifying new horror short to be directed by L.J. Stark Greenwood.


Starring Jay Podmore (Sustain), and reuniting Charlie Clarke with Jack Knight fresh from You Are My Sunshine, the film will be directed by L.J. with special FX by Gary Hunt, Steve Bosworth, Troy Dennison and Alex Bourne while Will Bradshaw is back as Director of Photography.


Kaushy Patel and Paminder Bains are on executive producer duties while Dave Hastings is in the producing chair as well as writing the script.


The film is set in England in 1934 where a young man, Elijah (Jay Podmore) has been captured and accused of being a werewolf by Clyde, a self-famed bounty hunter from a nearby village.


As Elijah is brutally tortured in a vain attempt to get him to confess to his alleged shapeshifting, he suddenly finds himself covertly released by two villagers, Faye (Charlie Clarke) and her younger brother Benjamin (Jack Knight), who believe his cries of innocence.


As they attempt to help the young man flee through the woods, all the while pursued by the maniacal Clyde, the night time forest suddenly reveals that some legends are not myth at all.


Director L.J ‘Stark’ Greenwood explains, “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at directing but so far have never had the chance to fully immerse myself into it. So I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew to help me bring this story to life, one that I am very excited about, because it is so scary and really plays directly into what story elements I think helped make some of the best Werewolf films we’ve already got".


"It will also allow me to indulge in visuals that are inspired by my love of Guillermo del Toro as well as my love of the 1930s carnival atmospheres".


"We’ve already been working on shot lists and ideas for how to not only present the characters but also our elusive werewolf, as well as looking at locations and filming test footage, so it’s all becoming very real and exciting! This has always been my favourite sub-genre of horror, the Werewolf film, so I hope to really do it justice with what we’ve got to show the world", he adds


Writer and producer Dave Hastings continues, "Originally starting out as a small 2-3 minute film idea, L.J. approached me a few months ago, about her dream of making the ultimate werewolf short. She had been wanting to have a good go at directing for some time now as well, and we all really wanted to help give her the platform to do this and combine a project with her love of Wolfman folklores. It was also a way to say a massive thankyou to her, especially after all the work she has done to make House of Screaming, Sustain, You Are My Sunshine and countless other movies projects we’ve all worked on".


Jay Podmore who plays Elijah describes joining back up with the established team, "I'm really looking forward to working with LJ, Dave and the team again - and the challenges that we will face together working on such exciting, graphic material. I can’t wait to play around with Elijah’s character - he has endured a great deal of physical and spiritual strain so I will be delving into a deep part of my mind to bring to him a rawness and vulnerability. I just cannot wait to get started on this! Such lovely talented people involved and looking forward to morphing into Elijah in 2019.”


And Charlie Clarke who plays as Fayeis in a similar position: "I am most looking forward to being back with such a great team for my first werewolf film and being on board for LJ’s directorial debut! I’m also looking forward to the 1930s styling and seeing the werewolf make up".


SNARL starts filming in early 2019 with a release planned for later in the year. More updates and details will be coming soon and follow the latest production news at http://www.lightbeamproductions.co.uk/


A recent behind the scenes film has been released from the crew and watch the video below:





By midlandsmovies, Jan 24 2019 11:30AM



Filmmakers homage to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning for 60th Anniversary


Local filmmakers Them Pesky Kids and director Luke Radford are releasing a homage to Alan Sillitoe’s "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" to celebrate the original film’s approaching 60th anniversary at Rough Trade on the 1st of February.


On February 1st of January, Nottingham Director Luke Radford and Them Pesky Kids are hosting a launch night at Rough Trade Nottingham to mark the online release of their homage to Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.


Aptly titled, “I’ll be Here After the Factory is Gone” tells a modern day reimagining of Arthur Seaton’s story expressing just how relevant the book and film still is today 60 years later.


Having already screened at Nottingham Contemporary in July, and Broadway Cinema in September as part of their Working Class Heroes season preceding the original film, the Rough Trade screening will mark the third and final public screening of the film before releasing its online release.


With free entry and featuring musical performances from The Ruffs and DJs throughout the night, the event will be taking donations to raise money for the St Anns Advice Centre and Food Bank, a charity dedicated to helping inhabitants in some of the most in need areas of Nottingham.


A modern day homage to Alan Sillitoe’s “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”. Arthur is a young man stuck in the 9 to 5 office grind, finding his salvation in booze, parties, and women; until a new love brings clarity to his world. Directed by Luke Radford, Starring Aaron Lodge, Kelly Jaggers, and Esmeé Matthews. Set to music of Nottingham band The Ruffs. You can read our full Midlands Movies review by clicking this link.



Director Luke Radford adds, "I saw Saturday Night and Sunday Morning a few years ago and immediately read the book it's based on. It’s over 60 years since it was first released and the environment, themes and characters still resonate".


"I took themes and key elements of the original narrative and placed them in a contemporary setting with Arthur Seaton now working in telesales rather than the Raleigh factory.".


The film will be released online via Them Pesky Kids’ Vimeo and social media pages on the 1st of February at 7.30pm. Them Pesky Kids is a production company based in Nottingham who produce films and provide video content and solutions to a range of companies, www.thempeskykids.co.uk


Luke Radford recently had the limited theatrical release of his debut feature film Outlawed, which is also currently available in the USA on DVD/VOD. The UK release is set for mid 2019. Luke also teaches Film Production at Confetti ICT as he works towards his next project.



By midlandsmovies, Jan 23 2019 02:22PM



90s classic GHOST resurrects at CURVE Leicester


A new touring theatre production comes to Leicester’s CURVE this month as the successful 90s movie Ghost gets a re-imagining for the stage.


Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker and stars Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as a couple who suffer tragedy . Their lovers in limbo tale is complimented by an Oscar-winning performance from Whoopi Goldberg as a psychic.


The new stage show will feature the familiar story as the couple walk back to their apartment late one night and a tragic encounter sees Sam murdered and his beloved girlfriend Molly alone.


But with the help of a phoney psychic, Sam – trapped between this world and the next – tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger.


The movie Ghost has proven to be one of cinema’s biggest all-time hits. The film grossed over $505.7 million at the box office on a budget of just $22 million.


Goldberg received acclaim from critics for her performance as Oda Mae Brown and Ghost was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Score and Best Film Editing.


It won the awards for Best Supporting Actress for Goldberg and Best Original Screenplay for Bruce Joel Rubin whilst Swayze and Moore both received Golden Globe Award nominations for their performances.


The movie and the musical features The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody – made famous by the well-known pottery scene – and will be featured alongside many more terrific songs co-written by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.


This production contains gunshots, smoke, loud bangs and strobe lighting so is suitable for over 12s and tickets range from £45–£10 with discounts available.


Performance times:


Tue 29 Jan 7:30pm

Wed 30 Jan 2:15pm

Wed 30 Jan 7:30pm

Thu 31 Jan 2:15pm

Thu 31 Jan 7:30pm

Fri 1 Feb 7:30pm

Sat 2 Feb 2:15pm

Sat 2 Feb 7:30pm


Book Tickets via the box office here:

https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/ghost-the-musical/






By midlandsmovies, Jan 22 2019 07:04PM



Midlands Spotlight - The Cold Caller


Released in January 2019 just in time for festival consideration,The Cold Caller is a new horror from Coventry-based production company Korky Films.


The Cold Caller is a dark horror-drama which sees a woman awaken after being drugged only to find herself tied up in a dingy, decrepit room with a psychopath for company. Whilst trying to locate her belongings, she attempts to reach the outside world, but instead it reaches out to her.


The movie was written by Lee Charlish of Korky Films who also assumes directing and editing duties. Lee explains that It unashamedly pays homage to well-trodden horror tropes of the 70s and 80s.


“I hoped to create a sense of immediate unease and familiarity, but with a modern-day twist”.


“The Victim” is played by Marian Elizabeth or ‘Mazzy’ as Lee says she was affectionately known on set, and her diminutive stature helped create her character. With a distinct level unease and helplessness, the audience will be encouraged to sympathise with her plight as she tries to formulate an escape from a crazed madman who is seemingly responsible for the murders of many local women.


“The Psychopath” is played by local actor and filmmaker Mark Hancock and complete with a shocking hessian mask and oily, bloodied attire, Lee describes the movie’s villain as “suitably menacing”.


Completing the cast is Stuart Walker as The Cold Caller himself. “His voice work is amazing and really captures the mood required for the sensational denouement”, adds Lee.


As space was limited, the crew list was deliberately small as Lee used his own garage as The Psychopath’s Lair. Months of production design occurred to ensure the set looked suitably grim, during which time all manner of creepy items were curated and strategically placed.


Assuming camera duties, along with Lee, was Damien Trent, another Coventry based filmmaker (from Doktored Films) who had previously worked as a sound recordist on the Korky Films/Jam-AV production, Scarecrow.


The atmospheric musical score was provided by Chris Pemberton, a session musician who is currently on tour with renowned musician John Grant.


Make-up was designed and applied by Jessica Peck, a Warwickshire based make-up artist and actor, who has appeared in local productions and is beginning a career in make-up and design. She is currently studying a Production Arts course.


The Cold Caller is the first film from a slate of smaller-scale productions scheduled for 2019 and beyond, although larger scale projects are still concurrently being produced.


Lee concludes, “All the movies I’m working on, regardless of budget, crew size or scale have big ambitions and the same level of professionalism and style”.


To follow the production and to find out more check out Korky Films’ social media:


Twitter https://twitter.com/KorkyFilms


Facebook https://www.facebook.com/korkyfilms



By midlandsmovies, Jan 21 2019 03:08PM



Pledge (2019) Dir. Daniel Robbins


This 2019 horror satire has three friends, the rotund Justin (Zachery Byrd), geeky Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello) and the Woody Allen-alike David (Zach Weiner) attempt to join a fraternity in their first few weeks at college. The trio of socially awkward nerds try their best to join a number of party-centric houses but with little success before being invited to a get together where their wildest dreams come true – booze, birds and “bro” respect.


However, as these things play out they are asked to return to this mansion in the woods and pledge their allegiance during a hazing ceremony the following night. Hazing usually consists of a few embarrassing initiation trials to show your commitment to the club. Yet a much more sadistic version of this higher education rite of passage is forced upon them before they quickly realise they are facing potentially deadly consequences.


The film has a solid cast – the lead trio are believable as the studious losers – and Aaron Dalla Villa as one of the heads of the well-dressed frat house is as cocky and arrogant as needed – especially when shouting “Are you ready to be Kings of the campus?” at his potential new ‘recruits’. The film begins well with hints upon the darkness coming up and some neat character-driven conversations showing how desperate the boys are to be popular.


Unfortunately, the excellent candle-lit cinematography – which is one of many religious-infused images seen throughout – is almost entirely undone by characters that make such silly decisions and therefore Pledge begins to fail as soon as the situation takes a turn for the worse.


The three guys are portrayed as wimps – fine, but as pupils at a university was it intentional to have them make such dumb choices? As their trials get more violent and dangerous, their attempts to escape, if you can call them that, are straight out of the Scooby-Doo school of thought. Doors are open at random, the group splits up and they repeat the same actions with the expectation of a different outcome. With the boys up against the brutal jocks, the film could have portrayed a contrast between the power of the mind versus the strength of athleticism but fails to find appropriate fodder in the themes it (superficially) broaches.


Much like the boys, an audience will be tested mentally and emotionally to stick with them and as the characters’ opportunities to escape slipped away so did my interest. With Green Room (2015) showing clever youngsters caught in a building trying their clever best in an attempt to escape, there’s no excuse for having characters not making believable decisions. With a hint of the gruesome testing games of Would You Rather (2012) the film attempts to metaphorically explore the struggles of supremacy in American institutions but fails its initiation test owing to a thin plot and thick characters.


★★ ½ Stars


Michael Sales

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