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By midlandsmovies, Oct 7 2017 03:00PM



BLOOD MYTH


Directed by Sean Brown & Luke Gosling

Bearing 305 Productions. In association with Dark Rift films


After sci-fi short Athena, Leicester’s Bearing 305 Productions return with a full feature as filmmakers Sean Brown and Luke Gosling turn their gaze to the horror genre in their brand new release Blood Myth.


With the film now accepted into the Sacramento Horror Film Festival and the Spooky Empire Film Festival in Orlando, the two filmmakers made their movie for under £10,000 whilst it also features a voice cameo from actor Toby Kebbell (Kong Skull Island, Dead Man's Shoes).


The film begins with a night time point-of-view journey into the darkness as a dog barks and we stumble across a man covered in blood. With this spooky set up we cut to the main story where a journalist (Jonathan McClean as James Lincoln) investigates the urban legends of missing people and the emergence of stories about the occult.


As James interviews a number of people, we soon cut to his home life and pregnant girlfriend (Anna Dawson as Harriet Jones) whom he is planning to get away with for their anniversary. A voiceover fills in some background information and the filmmakers begin with a great selection of varied local locations from a car park roof to a barbershop which subsequently becomes important later. Other regional low-budget filmmakers take note – this can hugely assist with production values as the film (mostly) avoids suburban interiors that are often all-too-common in local productions and which helps set this film apart from the crowd.


The film hints upon a clandestine workplace affair from the past which causes friction and it should be noted that the technical side of the film certainly has a professional sheen. From the superb lighting (it moves from brightly lit locales to the ominous darkness of the countryside) to the sound mix, the filmmakers have no trouble handling a multitude of disciplines.


Also, the film appears to give nods to similar horror fare with some Psycho-esque animal taxidermy shots, a “creepy Victorian doll” and red lighting denoting upcoming bloodshed which ensures it wears its influences on its sleeves. When Harriet goes missing one night, her disappearance then leads to the police being called in but any astute viewer would suspect all is not what it seems.


One area of improvement however would be the slightly awkward script. Whether it was an intentional decision by the filmmakers or a nod to the gothic horrors of the past, the dialogue often comes across as if the actors are reading from a novel. Lines such as “until I find evidence of nefarious deeds”, “I suspect foul play” and “I think the findings justify my actions” come across as if the actors are reciting old prose. And unfortunately at times, their performances suffer as a result. It’s going to be difficult to deliver archaic words in what is set up as a realistic modern day setting and so it ends up sounding unnatural.



Nevertheless, as the story progresses into the exploration of the mysterious phenomenon, James’ room gets trashed and he is led to Hannah Chalmers as Alexandra Priest who explains more about the dark rumours circulating as he finds photos of himself on a digital camera.


The filmmakers mix up the pacing throughout which is great but a few trims could have been used in the ‘search’ scenes. An extended sequence where James slowly walks around farm buildings didn’t seem the narrative answer to the disappearance set up. Expecting the protagonist to rush around with a concern for the loss of his loved one, the film instead has him leisurely wandering in a drawn-out set of shots. This subsequently lowers the tension and without any immediacy there is less intrigue and concern for his (and her) plight.


Although a long time coming, as we enter the final scenes we are provided some nasty answers and the film surprises the viewer with some shocking revelations.


With unsettling vibes that hark to rural chillers like The Wicker Man and Kill List, Blood Myth mixes the urban and countryside settings successfully, and adds a splattering of blood and nastiness in its conclusion too. The addition of a few more dramatic scenes during the search would have lifted the slightly saggy middle section but when all is said and done, Blood Myth tackles the familiar but chilling idea of an eerie vanishing. As an intriguing mystery, the film takes a level-headed approach to familiar horror tropes and mixes in its own themes on the inherent unreliability of rumour, gossip and language.


Find out more about Blood Myth at the official site here: www.bloodmyth.com


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 6 2017 02:35PM



Amityville: The Awakening (2017) Dir. Franck Khalfoun


Filmed in 2014 let me give you the real reason why this movie took so long to come out in this comprehensive cliché list:


✓Teenage goth

✓Young blonde girl

✓New house

✓Sick sibling

✓Single Mum

✓Alarms

✓Dog barking

✓Windows open

✓Shadows

✓Creaky staircase

✓Crucifix

✓Medical professional

✓Lightning

✓Jump scare

✓Bloody bed sheets

✓Waking from nightmare

✓Pigs head

✓Teenage angst

✓Power cut

✓Flashlights

✓Basement

✓Urban legend

✓Shotgun

✓Hallucinations

✓Insect swarm

✓Possession

✓Bible passage

✓Lakeside pier

✓ "This house is evil"

✓Crawling albino

✓Unstable mother

✓Bones cracking

✓More dreams

✓Violin screeches

✓Yadda yadda yadda


All the ingredients for one of the worst films of the year which has all the charm of a passing fart and includes the un-ironic dialogue "remakes totally blow". The one thing we can agree on.


2/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 28 2017 09:00AM

The Devil’s Candy (2017) Dir. Sean Byrne


Dark horror The Devil’s Candy tells the story of troubled artist Jesse (played Ethan Embry) who moves to a remote country house with his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco).


As with all these things, once they unpack Jesse begins to hear voices whilst he frantically paints Francis Bacon-esque demonic pictures that have an eerie premonition-like reality to them. As well as haunting sounds, an awkward loner called Ray arrives at the house insisting he used to live there but is aggressively refused entry by the father.


As a second painting begins to form, the horrific scared faces of burning children are lost on Jesse who uses the mental anguish to return to an art world that shunned him. The film uses broad brush strokes from the genre but adds some metal-music infused excitement to the usual round of killings and disturbed slaughter.


A red Flying-V guitar, which plays a part in the story’s development, resonates with weighty devil-like rock and the constant Black Sabbath-style power-chord strumming is deafening and traumatizing in its repetition. As a fan of that genre of music it was refreshing to see this traditional family entrenched in some good heavy metal – especially as it wasn’t Rob Zombie for a change.


The colour red is prevalent throughout – an obvious trope that plays like some kind of alternative American Beauty – which symbolises future bloodshed, but the film is well shot and the actors believable in their off-kilter family roles.


The film could have done without an even more blatant slide into religious ‘Jesus’ imagery towards a flaming finale but the thrills and intense pleasures come from a genre film well executed with a ‘killer’ soundtrack.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 26 2017 06:42AM



Blair Witch in the Woods - A Haughmond Hill Halloween screening


Mother! It. CHiPs. 2017 has already had its fair share of terrifying movie moments.


But there’s one cinema event which has us at Midlands Movies feeling like we’re just asking for trouble: Atmospheric Films presents The Blair Witch Project.In the woods. That’s in. the. woods.


Not content with simply showing films in the open air, Films in a Flash take their screenings to unforgettable locations where they add their own unique flourishes. Bespoke film props - as well as a few surprises for atmosphere and authenticity - takes audience immersion to a whole new level. Think the Secret Cinema without having to re-mortgage your house to pay for the privilege.


Previous events have included Jurassic Park whilst a T-Rex* prowled in your periphery, and a Jaws screening when you’re a stone’s throw from the eeriest of lakes.


With The Blair Witch Project director Eduardo Sanchez already sending his endorsement, the night promises to be full of scares, screams and snotty close ups. Add to that horror film short Victim and the reportedly haunted Haughmond Abbey within howling distance and you’re sure of a cinematic experience you’ll never forget.


Taking place at Haughmond Hill in Shrewsbury on October 28th, tickets are selling at a scary pace but some are still available here.


Midlands Movies will see you there; we’ll be standing facing the corner.


The Blair Witch Project - Atmospheric FilmsHaughmond Hill in Upton Magna

Saturday 28th October 2017

6:30pm til 10:30pm (last entry 7:15pm)

Minimum Age: 15


Robb Sheppard

Twitter: @RedBezzle


*May have been a man in a suit.




By midlandsmovies, Sep 21 2017 02:31PM

Mother! (2017) Dir. Darren Aronofsky


The history of haunting, or haunted, “mother” horror movies is a long one ranging from Mama (2013) to Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (Regan’s bed-bouncing screams of “mother” still linger from 1973) but the eclectic Aronofsky was never going to provide an audience with the expected. In his horror house, he places Jennifer Lawrence squarely as Mother Nature herself as his story develops from a chilling but calculated cliché to a surprise sermon in just 2 hours.


Lawrence plays the put-upon partner of Javier Bardem’s author who is ridden with writer’s block as she attempts to build a house from the ashes in order to create their own personal Eden together. The first hour contains many horror tropes – a new couple, a mysterious house, a scary cellar, the strange phenomenon in the walls etc – and sets up a film where Lawrence’s mother tries increasingly futile attempts to maintain her paradise, lost as it is to many unwarranted guests. A brilliant Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer arrive (in the script as “Man” and “Woman”) to disturb the sanctuary in their utter rudeness and contempt of Lawrence.


Here we begin to see Aronofsky’s allegory as we soon witness their children arrive (*obvious klaxon* ‘Cain and Abel’) whose Old Testament fights sees blood spattering as mother’s “guests” continue on a downward spiral of debauchery, violence and carnage.


Personally, it felt a film of two halves and I enjoyed the themes the director brings attention to but in fairness to viewers, I do think Hollywood needs to work on their trailers. Knowing Aronofsky I was surprised to see what was advertised as a haunted house chiller in the film’s promotional material which has since prompted film company Paramount to issue a statement about taking creative risks. If only the advertising was more honest about its intentions I think audiences would respect them and the film a lot more. There’s nothing in the heady themes of the film that a mainstream crowd would not “get” yet hiding it under a mask of Blumhouse-esque trailer scares does it more than a disservice.


That said, with a few dark moments of comedy in the first half, Lawrence’s patience is pushed to the limit and I was laughing along with the movie a fair bit. However, once her character became pregnant the director launches into a mother-metaphor so blatant I began laughing sporadically AT it. More of a dissertation – an unwanted lecture at times – the film’s focus shift to the dangers or war, religion, false idols and even the birth of a sacrificial “chosen one” was a bit too on the nose.


However, Mother is brilliantly filmed in grainy greys and browns and the bursts of red colour and the surrounding green nature are fleeting but all the more powerful. The lack of score maintains the stark and unsettling mood whilst the final anarchy and chaos in the house towards the film’s conclusion is a striking example of the director’s technical vision.


But was it enjoyable? Well, it’s certainly a class product and although audiences have been polarised with its efforts (part of which I maintain is a ‘marketing’ issue) the film itself contains a full-house of interesting scriptural and environmental themes which I was still picking apart way after the film had finished.


My own initial interpretation was one that the film was simply “time” itself. The “big bang” fiery opening was followed by a period of cooling earth tones before (metaphorical) dinosaurs Harris and Pfeiffer arrived. A frog jumping from the ooze onto land appeared an evolutionary nod whilst a directorial ‘god-shot’ high above the house seemed celestial in its nature with Earth (the house) at its centre. And it wasn’t until the arrival of Bardem’s “fan-fiction” (Bible) did we see the ultimate destruction of “mother” (nature).


However, it is very open to interpretation and it is that which is far and away the best thing about it but at times I was hoping to get the beginning of a film that the ending hadn’t set up or even find an ending for the more traditional horror film promised initially. But like the Bible, it is ultimately a film of two halves (Testaments) which combine into an intricate whole. This will satisfy some but others will find the bait-and-switch as awful as the violent fundamentalism that manifests in the finale. Your ultimate decision may be swayed by whether you feel humans are already a bunch of selfish shits – or want to be told that is the case just one more time but in a slightly pretentious way.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2017 07:16AM



IT (2017) Dir. Andrés Muschietti


A group of bullied school kids spend their summer investigating the disappearances of a series of local children.


In October 1988, Ben’s (Jaeden Lieberher) littler brother went missing, and was never found. The following summer, a number of other kids start to go missing, and Ben is not able to ignore It (Bill Skarsgård) . He and his friends (all played by some cracking performers) join together to see what’s been going on, only It has his eyes on them first.


What. A. Film. I am a very happy person right now. It was brilliant! I’m finally able to say that I like horror films when they’re done right, and this thing didn’t put a foot wrong. I would honestly have not problem paying to see the film again this week.


The kids in this film were all brilliant. I loved all the characters, and the way each actor captured their own was really great to see. There was none of that cheesy, over-egged acting that can sometimes happen with younger performers, and that had been one of my main concerns after deciding to see the film. They each really understood the eccentricities and oddities of their roles, for example, Jaeden Lieberher nailed Ben’s stutter, and Finn Wolfhard got Richie’s ballsiness down to a T. I was also a huge fan of Sophia Lillis as Beverly. She fitted right in with the lads and wasn’t afraid to be different, and I really liked that. There was, of course, Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise too. He was excellent, getting the two elements of his character just right - the childlike side of him was hugely contrasted by the less friendlier moments, and both complimented each other really, really well.


As I said at the start, this is a film that I’d happily pay to see again at the cinema. I think the atmosphere helped me to get into the film, but the other thing that worked well was the fact that I thought that It was actually scary. There’s a lot of shockers that happen - I’ve not read the book and I avoided trailers like the plague so had no idea what to expect. People who’ve been reading my stuff for a while will know I’m a jumper, and this film well and truly got me… many times. As always, it was a mix of the moments Stevie Wonder could see coming and those that were not as expected that had me on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was very effective at building tension, but also at counteracting it with some massive anticlimaxes that persuaded you to let your guard down for a second.


Alongside the horror though, there was plenty of humour, but not in the way that turned it into a comedy horror (I’d have felt quite let down had that have been the case). It was a style of humour that I can’t put a word to to describe, but I can say that it properly fitted the coming-of-age nature of the story and cast.


Again, it helped to break the tension at points so you got a nice change in pace and it kept the film feeling fresh.


On the whole, I can’t recommend It enough. This is a film that has given be greater confidence in horrors, and has me very excited for a sequel that we better get sooner rather than later. I loved the characters, and thought the overall style of the film was spot on. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say this could be the best film I’ve seen so far this year, which is saying something.


10/10


Kira Comerford

Twitter @FilmAndTV101

By midlandsmovies, Sep 15 2017 02:03PM



Midlands Spotlight - Witchfinder General screening

 

The National Civil War Centre is screening Witchfinder General in the fantastic chilling atmosphere of its authentic Tudor Hall on Halloween night. With a great night promised the night has been arranged by the Palace Theatre and National Civil War Centre on 31st October in truly unique surroundings.


A horror evening awaits at the National Civil War Centre on Halloween night as the Tudor Hall plays host to one of cinema’s most horrifying cult classics, Witchfinder General.


Set during the anarchy and chaos of the Civil War, the 1968 film follows witch hunter Matthew Hopkins (horror icon Vincent Price at his malevolent best) as he conducts a vicious reign of terror in puritan East Anglia. But his persecution of an innocent village priest sets in motion a trail of revenge that escalates to a brutal, bloody denouement.


The sinister old world ambience of the Tudor Hall is the ideal setting for this 17th century fright night. Having stood through the turbulence of the Civil War when Newark was a melting pot of mayhem and violence the building is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of Lady Ossington and ‘the boy in the dorm’ and, during restoration work, a suspected witch bottle was unearthed from its foundations.


This unique and ominous atmosphere paired with the film’s unnerving horror is sure to be the perfect cocktail for a blood-curdling Halloween night. 


The screening begins at 8pm with the bar open from 7pm and will be introduced by Civil War historian and film aficionado Adam Nightingale. Tickets, costing only £5, are limited for this exclusive event so make sure to book early.


You can book online by clicking here or phone for tickets on 01636 655755.


Please note - This film is rated 15 so ID may be required and entry will be refused to any underage guests


By midlandsmovies, Sep 11 2017 05:43PM

2017 Movie Catch-Up Blog Part 4




Unlocked (2017) Dir. Michael Apted

After the awful ‘Rupture’ and the fantastic ‘What Happened To Monday’, Noomi Rapace is one of my favourite actresses but boy does she need a decent film (and some consistency) for her to attach her multiple talents to. Sadly, this action thriller falls way short of quality entertainment as Rapace’s ex-CIA interrogator is tricked into getting involved in a suspected terrorist chemical attack in London. The film is not short of talent with support coming from a sleazy Michael Douglas, a phone-in/hammy performance from John Malkovich (which this film needed much more of) and Toni Collette’s MI5 head who has more in common with Annie Lennox with her blonde buzz cut, than James Bond’s M. “Hey, that large nameless goon looks like Orlando Bloom” I screech before realising it is Orlando Bloom yet whose ‘acting’ and accent is so bad I almost stopped watching. Rapace’s thoughtful dark performance in ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' shows she can bring depth to characters, whilst her turn in ‘What Happened to Monday’ shows she can handle the lead in an action flick. So her involvement in two of the worst films of 2017 is much like this film – a huge HUGE disappointment. Avoid this dull, stilted and ponderous thriller like the biological plague. 4/10



Risk (2017) Dir. Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras new documentary is a solid if slightly amateur looking exposé on Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange. What is interesting is how it reveals the inherent conflicts of Assange’s work (and more fascinatingly his character) as the film flips from a behind the scenes look at the machinations of the organisation to the complexities of his impending extradition. The film contrasts the support for making public potential war crimes and surveillance with a critique of Assange and the shady sexual abuse claims. Sadly the brief-ish 91 minutes drags owing to a mix of constant shaky cam (which is less “intentional choice” than simply the only option and bad camerawork) in addition to the constant presence of Assange whose arrogance is unpalatable to say the least. Director Poitras wisely changes tack when she claims Assange sent her a message calling certain scenes a "threat to his freedom", with Assange missing the irony completely with this censorship request. Although his real-life escape to the Peruvian Embassy has a certain excitement to it, the film is unable to construct itself to create a meaningful narrative that’s more engaging. Difficult questions are approached, multi-sides of the story are presented and the work of Wikileaks analysed from various perspectives which is testament to Poitras’ investigations. Yet all the people involved are so inherently unpleasant that the interesting political and moral ramifications of these revelations are lost amongst the obnoxious posturing from insufferable people. 5/10



Hidden Figures (2017) Dir. Theodore Melfi

“If we keep labelling something 'a black film,' or 'a white film'— basically it's modern day segregation. We're all humans. Any human can tell any human’s story”. Theodore Melfi, Director.


Based on the real life 1960s story of African American female mathematicians working at NASA, Hidden Figures is a powerful drama about an important part in not just the history of the USA but for the work which helped build towards that “giant leap for Mankind”. With Soviet space supremacy on the horizon the internal pressure rises and genius mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is headhunted to assist the lead space team during a time of demeaning segregation.


From resolving issues about heat shields to solving equations about trajectories, Katherine fights objections, prejudices and her own anonymity in the reports she creates and it’s this conflict which gives the film its engaging power. Henson’s stoic performance channels a humble woman attempting to fulfil her role against a tide of narrow-mindedness. And there is also great support from Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan who is being denied a supervisor role and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson who has to go to court to attend a white-only night school to train as an engineer. Kevin Costner plays the director of the Space Task Group and he brings back his 60s ‘JFK’ Jim Garrison with similarly framed glasses and a focus on the injustices of the world, whilst Jim Parsons is simply his ‘Bing Bang Theory’ Sheldon Cooper with an added ignorance.


The trio of put-upon lead women are outstanding and portray a proud magnificence – and some warm light-heartedness in their car journeys together – as they all attempt to become first-rate workers in a world full of social barriers. It reminded me somewhat of Race (our 2016 review here) which I enjoyed immensely but here the narrative momentum replaces a track race with the space race. The film takes some liberties with facts from the era but a 2 hour run time is going to need to use composite characters, conflated timelines and a more simplistic explanation of NASA management structures but the importance of these ladies – both in their small steps and giant leaps – should not be underestimated. Well photographed and with enough cinematic flourishes, Hidden Figures utilises the multiple talents of its terrific cast to portray the efforts and toil that moved the world towards a more “human”-kind. 8/10



Bloodrunners (2017) Dir. Dan Lantz

A 1930s b-movie prohibition flick with Ice-T as a gangster vampire has to be a lot of fun, right? Er, sadly no as this schlock horror fails to love up to its ridiculous description. Clearly low budget, my low expectations were not even fulfilled as we follow a corrupt middle-aged cop trying to make sense of the visitors and owners of a whore house and speakeasy in his town. The film takes a vampire’s life-time to get going as the film promises blood and guns (it’s a vampire gangster flick after all) but it takes nearly 2/3rds of the film to get any real action. The high concept-low budget set up cries out for silly action yet takes itself far too seriously with nods to spousal abuse, class conflict and a soppy story of love between two youngsters from opposite sides. Some cool swing music cannot hide the TV-show style sets, awful stock characters (the “crazy” priest who isn’t believed) and hackneyed writing. Again, the concept isn’t the worse idea in the world and with (a lot of) tinkering, there is an enjoyable thrill-ride in here somewhere but unfortunately Bloodrunners will make your blood run cold with its amateur delivery. Absolutely toothless. 4/10


Midlands Movies Mike

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