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By midlandsmovies, Dec 5 2017 08:17PM



Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos


From the director of The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos follows up that fantastical film with an allegorical journey plumbed from the depths of a Greek tragedy. A seemingly perfect American family (played by Irish, Australian & British actors and beginning the film’s unsettling traits) is headed by Colin Farrell’s surgeon whose life is interrupted regularly by an odd young boy called Martin, played by a fantastically freaky Barry Keoghan.


The boy hangs around the hospital and a local cafe where his presence haunts the surgeon on a near daily basis. Their unexplained relationship keeps the film’s strangeness at the forefront and with a stupendous set of orchestral songs from J.S Bach, Franz Schubert and Gyorgy Ligeti, there is a sense of classical Kubrick unease throughout. Slow tracking shots through long corridors and God-like aerial sequences capture the mythological tragedy and the presence of the “hands of the heavens” whilst again harking back to Kubrick-style mannerisms in tone.


The actors’ dialogue is in a stilted but poetic style which may grate on some audiences but here it felt perfect to focus on the discomforting feeling that haunts every moment. The director wrong-foots us time and again as characters are awkwardly, but purposely, filmed from low angles and sometimes placed at the far reaches of the frame. The story unfolds with the young boy’s presence causing a string of mysterious ailments to Farrell’s family. Is the boy possessed? A devil? A harbinger of doom? Fate itself? The film goes nowhere near answering this conundrum but focuses on the various natures of revenge, punishment and retribution.


With one of the best casts of the year, it is rounded out with Nicole Kidman who plays the idiosyncratic mother she’s so adept at (The Others and Stoker), Raffey Cassidy as the blossoming daughter and Sunny Suljic as the couple’s youngest and most innocent son. Maybe not for a passing cinema-goer, the film will find its fans in those willing to go to the darkest and most gruesome places and uses an antiquated literary device to help provide its metaphorical narrative.


Unlike Aronofsky’s mother! this film feels that it exists beyond its ancient allegory and with perfect performances, the movie will hopefully gain interest for its artistry alone but in fact leaves an audience with so much more to contemplate.


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 29 2017 12:01PM



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, Nov 26 2017 09:16PM



Grindhouse Planet Film Festival 2017


Still a young pretender on the Midlands circuit, the Grindhouse Planet Film Festival may have started small but has grown into a successful alternative to the mainstream regional showcases with its focus on the bloody and gruesome. Midlands Movies Mike heads to the home of horror for the second time for another dose of sleazy celluloid.


Now in its second year, the festival ran on 26th November with over 50 films being chosen to screen at Leicester city’s The Shed venue. With a cosy and friendly atmosphere the films comprised shorts and features from the local to the international whilst all the while maintaining its grass roots grime.


With a 48-hour film challenge and a question and answer session from filmmaker Steve Lawson, the event had a varying array of talented filmmakers and fans eager to see the nasty gems on offer.




The festival was spread over 10 hours and included such fan favourites as West Midlands zombie comedy Still, web-series sci-fi shocker The Rockman and dark drama All Bad Things.


Blood, guts, nudity, violence and laughs were all covered across the films and although Quentin Tarantino drew attention to the genre with his 2007 homage to the 70s double-features of his youth, it was great to see local filmmakers show their love for the exploitation movie tropes of the past as well.




Around the halfway mark, The Shed held host to a Q & A with Leicester filmmaker Steve Lawson of Creativ Studios. Having recently completed Hellriser (our coverage here) and a co-directing stint on short Time, and Again (review) the writer-director was happy to share his current experience with the passionate audience.


“Jumping from making my first film to working with distribution companies I realised very quickly you have to compromise a lot and change a lot of things but you cannot make films without producers”, explained Steve.


“After doing the low-budget Essex Heist which wasn’t a mega-seller but was distributed into Asda and other major retailers, other companies began taking my calls,” he joked. He went on to say: “My new film though is for Hereford Films (We Still Kill the Old Way) who are based in London. It’s a serious horror slightly away from the grindhouse style”.


Steve is a firm believer in filming efficiently which he says zero-budget filmmakers should have an understanding of - as whether you are making a £10,000 film or a £10 million film, filmmakers should prioritise the important business side of things. And with his career in full swing Steve gave some exclusive nuggets about his upcoming film.


“This new movie stars Shane Taylor from Band of Brothers as the lead and support comes from Rula Lenska who hasn’t made a film since Queen Kong. Actually I don’t know what I’m doing here as I start tomorrow at 9am and should be prepping!”




As well as Steve, we heard from Kelly McCormack who is heavily involved in the film-making scene in Leicester and beyond, and was down at The Shed supporting The Rockman (as associate producer) as well as Christmas based short The N0ughty List as a make-up artist.


“How did I jump from one to the other?” asks Kelly. “Well, they needed someone to put lots of fake blood on Santa and I had lots of fake blood”. Encapsulating the grindhouse spirit and community, Kelly feels the support from fans and filmmakers often help get these zero-budget films off the ground.


“I’ve been here most of the day and loved Charismata but the 48 hour film challenge was so good to watch to see what local people can do in a short time. Once you get a team that’s fully on board you know that it’s going to go mostly right with these mini-projects. Regarding the festival itself I was here last year but The Shed has had a refurbishment and the filmmaking community has had an even better atmosphere over the last 12 months so it’s made this year even more special”.


She adds that the spirit of genre film fans helps inspire others too. “There’s also a lot of networking going on and this is the type of festival where you can see people achieve whatever they set out to do. And we shouldn’t forget that big thanks should go to the organiser Marc Hamill as it’s been a really great day".


Another attendee was actor, filmmaker and grindhouse fan Ryan Flamson who starred as the main character for one of the entrants in the 48 hour film challenge.


“Well I starred as Coke-head the Clown [laughs] and it was a lot of fun and the short got a great crowd reaction. The turnout has been really good and the local talent is far better than people realise”.


Ryan adds, “People don’t always get the opportunity to showcase these types of films but Grindhouse Planet helps this and the quality of production is getting better and better. Especially with the budget limitations we all have”.


“Another thing is that people can come here to learn", says Ryan. "Steve Lawson gave a great Q & A about distribution and you can hear lots of feedback and get involved in networking too. I really loved The Killer Must Kill At Christmas from the 48-hour film challenge so recommend people go check that out”.


Check Ryan's recommendation below




With another successful year completed, the fans of saws, gore and more once again demonstrated their appreciation of all the talent on show and were buzzing to hear more about a third festival in 2018. Lets hope Marc and the team can grind out another successful full house of fright flicks next year. I'm almost certain he will.


Check out the official website here: http://www.grindhouseplanet.com


Check out The N0ughty List which is being shown before our own Batman Returns Christmas screening at Firebug in Leicester https://www.facebook.com/events/349772655487985/



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, 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

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