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By midlandsmovies, Jan 18 2019 01:54PM



Midlands Review - Please Forgive Me


Directed by Marcus Marino Gould 2019.


Please Forgive Me is a short horror film written & directed by Marcus Marino Gould. It’s produced by Clockwork Paragon, a team of media students in Chesterfield with a few short films and a web series already under their belt.


The film concerns a father and daughter suffering the aftermath of a tragic incident. Amy (Justine Moore) blames herself, while Peter (Leon Chrimes) struggles to help her manage her mental health but has problems of his own as he may well be losing his grip on reality…


It’s a creepy little film, one that slips under your skin before you know it. The soundtrack is effectively eerie, ramping up the tension as Peter notices something’s wrong outside. It builds up to a great climax, with unearthly whispering and muttering that really sets the viewer on edge.


The build up to the climactic vision is good too, as father and daughter clash over a disturbing picture she seems unable to stop drawing. Moore is excellent as Amy, playing her with angry defiance and an edge of vulnerability, really selling how torn up with guilt the character is. The energy in the scene is a great counterpoint to the slow build-up of creepiness that follows.


The filming itself is very technically competent and well-shot, with a good eye for the right angle at the right time so it doesn’t feel static during the argument. Some of the shots could benefit from being allowed a little more time to linger, though, and there’s a curious flatness to some of the early shots, but overall it’s very pleasing on the eye.


I’ve struggled not to spoil the events of the film in this review, because the film does suffer from having a very slim story. To be blunt, it feels incomplete. We get a great sense of what the family’s world is now, and some good hints at the trauma that caused it, but just when the plot begins to move the film ends. We’re left with too many questions unanswered, and certainly wanting more. This is a rare occasion where I would advocate that short be longer rather than shorter! It works very well as a teaser to a web series or a proof-of-concept for a longer project, but ultimately it needs more to be a satisfying story.


Which is not to say it’s a bad film! Clocking in at around 4 and half minutes long, this is definitely worth a watch if you want to be creeped out and left with a lasting sense of unease. Clockwork Paragon are a very talented bunch, and though this film has a few problems it’s still evidence that they know their stuff well. They’re going to go far!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend



By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2019 11:31AM



SYNT: A Night in the Death of Jenny Taylor


Directed by Dave Inglis


2018


SYNT is the debut film from Dave Inglis, a writer-director from Birmingham who previously starred in West Midlands short Eviction and has now turned his hand to filmmaking in this horror comedy.


With a cast and crew from Birmingham and Solihull, SYNT is a kind of faux-documentary about Keith Fairbanks (Dave Inglis himself) who is a part-time journalist and online bingo-caller.


But things go strange very quick in this story as Keith arranges an ‘interview with a vampire’ after an online audition and heads to meet Jenny Taylor, an octogenarian bloodsucker AND a prostitute to boot. Sucker indeed.


Giving its documentary feel, the film has been wisely made in a very hand-held style. The camera movements and slice-of-life discussions are like a dark re-imagining of BBC’s The Office and everyday mundane activities are shown in a comically matter of fact delivery.


The script has lots of odd-ball and surreal jokes and dialogue often seems improvised which keeps with the documentary vibe as Dave and his cameraman – Ignatious Orlando Fyke – have funny off-the-cuff chats on their journey around town at night.


Long takes again maintain realism and whole scenes are played out without cuts which is testament to the actors’ skills. In addition, the film is punctuated with inserts, text, pauses and more which creates some visually interesting editing. However, SYNT could have definitely done with more of this though, as the long takes can begin to feel drawn-out and it just about avoids the pitfall of looking too much like an un-edited home-movie.


I am aware however of a shorter director’s cut that the filmmaker has made for festivals and I think this would work better as although the film throws lots of jokes at the audience, the murky lighting and juddering camera verges may push audience's to their 'wobbly' limit.


Brent-like Keith continues his investigations on the streets with Vlad and others, and seems somewhat unaware of his bumbling interview technique as he not only portrays events but almost gets involved in them himself. From take-aways to kerb-crawlers, the film finds lots of morbid fun in seedy night time shenanigans and its new suburban spin on the classic vampire hunter.


Obviously, the film is most reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows with its mix of vampire lore, comedy and documentary stylings but with the director freely admitting to some personal troubles outside of filmmaking, SYNY feels a cathartic exercise. Dave approaches the production as a form of therapy, involving friends and family and focusing on a complex project yet with a humorous tone which is more than an honourable exercise.


In conclusion, at over an hour in length some viewers’ patience may feel as stretched as a vampire’s life span but SYNT has more positives than negatives overall despite its drawn-out feel. If you loved Waititi’s 2014 film then I’d highly recommend this similar local Midlands flick with its fun parody mix involving crypts and quips.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jan 7 2019 01:47PM



Farside


Directed by Ash Morris


2018


Farside is the new film from Stoke-On-Trent director Ash Morris who has taken his Midlands crew to Welsh seaside town Rhyl to film his latest movie.


Presented in a very real-to-life hand held camera style, we follow refugee Sayeed (BAFTA shortlister Amir El-Masry) who heads to a caravan park to be trained as an on-site security guard.


As well as this with get glimpses into others’ lives from the park including Annabel (Sacha Parkinson who recently starred as the lead in feature film Apostasy) and her angry drunken father Jez (Shane Attwool from Clio Bernard’s Dark River).


As Sayeed kneels in Muslim prayer, we hear anti-immigrant sentiment on a radio phone-in and see Annabel going about her business on the sea front. But not before she suffers an epileptic seizure in her caravan home which foreshadows further physical and mental themes later in the film.


As Sayeed heads to the beach he has recollections of the sounds of war and the director cleverly shows the horrors of the past without giving too much away too early in the story.


Soon, Annabel joins him and they have fun together at the seaside arcade games but on her return we find her dad has lost his job which he blames on Polish workers. With drunken violent outbursts and attributing his current predicament on others, he seethes in boiling rage as we, the audience, feel a sense of tension about to explode.


With a crew made up locally from Staffordshire University students, a change of national location and its international themes, Farside successfully mixes small town sensibilities with wider worldwide issues. And it’s to its credit, that the film handles each of these ideas well – never forgetting the past and future whilst tackling the theme of conflict, both small and large.


As the two friends grow closer, Sayed still has nightmares from his previous life in the Middle East but is about to face new nightmares in his adopted home from those around him.


Hard-hitting and heart breaking, Ash Morris has tackled a difficult subject with gusto but also with sensitivity. Small details like Union Jack flags and background sound effects show the contrasting lives of the main players and the production doesn’t flinch from the complex matters at hand.


Escaping from violence in war-torn Syria into further violence in the supposedly peaceful UK, Morris parallels the loss of loved ones in a poignant yet stark short.


With fantastic performances from the three main leads, Farside ends up being a powerful reminder of the world we live in and explores the demonization of people escaping tragic circumstances and war-torn fighting, but only to find more battles in their new home.


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jan 5 2019 10:29AM



Night Tide


(2019) Body in the Box productions


Directed by Richard Miller


A new film from director of Call Out (click here) and The Exchange (click here), Night Tide opens with a spooky and chilling lullaby as a man enters a house in the dark at Christmas.


The child singing & off-kilter glockenspiel has the vibe of BBC’s cult TV show Psychoville and as he sits in a chair with a stiff drink, we see a female companion laughing at messages on a smart phone – clearly not paying much attention to her husband.


Tension is high as the couple argue before a knock at the door stirs the man from a bathroom soak as he listens to Beethoven’s Für Elise. After finding no one at the door he then heads to bed with a reminder that his relationship is on the rocks.


However, after discovering an open window, the man looks out into the night and unsure of what he sees grabs a torch. This illuminates not only the dark corridors but the audience are slowly illuminated along the way too.


Director Miller has done a lot with little in this short. The scenes are lit with a horror vibe but doesn’t stray into haunted house territory. I’ve always found the more grounded drama and the depiction of a realistic house can make the horror stand out when it does arrive. And this is what happens in Night Tide.


Gavin Fowler is good as the put-upon and spooked husband. He says a lot without, well, actually saying a lot, especially as dialogue is kept to a minimum. Which is hugely to its benefit. An unsettling tone is what the director goes for and delivers in spades here as well. Each short scene/sequence has a beginning, middle and end which fits into the whole narrative well and creates intrigue from the start.


The cinematography from Grant Archer is superb as uses the light from the torch, candles, isolated bulbs and clever angles to help further solidify the film’s horror credentials and morbid tone.


So what strange entity may be lurking around this domestic abode? Well, I won’t spoil it here but a splatter of blood, a silhouette at the window and a meal at a table all add to the strange atmosphere.


Miller expertly creates questions in each scene and allows the viewer to discover (or question) the strange goings-on with the protagonist as he wanders his home at night. A final reveal didn’t quite hit the mark for me but all the previous strands, music and themes are concluded very well.


With a great wrap-around story, excellent technical skill and with a set of frightful, and brilliantly executed scenes, Miller has created a terror-filled short in Night Tide that brilliantly soaks you with outstanding sinister scares.


Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jan 2 2019 02:11PM



Trick


(2019)


Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz


With an amazing short film production run in 2018, Midlands filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz ends the year with another hard-hitting drama with his new film Trick.


As a young man pours drugs onto a weighing machine, another older man sits nearby and discusses pets and how kindness can be seen as a weakness that can be exploited.


And “hey presto”, immediately we are thrown into one of the director’s familiar gangster scenarios where a boss is giving his underling some much needed advice. But before the conversation can continue however, they are interrupted by two men – one of whom (Jimmy) sheepishly asks for more time to repay some money.


Crime and violence are a recurring theme in Shahnawaz’s work - from Tarantino-influenced kidnapping in Witness to a Nolan-esque time-twisting attack in his last film Reversal. And here, the film sets up more of the same with a brutal world of hoodlums and terror. One of the hired hands (Shahnawaz regular Nisaro Karim) forces the man to sit down at the boss’ table.


The boss (a menacing James Jaysen Bryhan in a fantastic performance) proceeds to perform a magic “trick” involving a blood-red handkerchief. Darkly comic, he sarcastically provides his own magician’s musical accompaniment to his silly – but scary – performance.


Raising tension, the director does well by mixing the light-hearted trick with the darker themes already shown – thus creating a rising atmosphere of dread. And what will he make disappear using his fists? Well, you’ll have to watch the full film (see below) but suffice to say Sheikh has added one of his trademark twists to the tale to surprise the audience like pulling a bunny out of a hat.


With the director’s plans to tackle less shorts and bigger projects, it seems just the right time for Shahnawaz to tackle a larger and more thorough film. As although the shorts have all been dark delights, they now seem like teasers to a talent that requires flexing in a bigger arena.


Trick therefore ends up with Shahnawaz conjuring up another forceful short that alludes to the next step on his magical filmmaking journey.


Michael Sales



Watch the full film below:




Find out more about Sheikh's projects on Twitter and Facebook:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinesheikh


By midlandsmovies, Jan 1 2019 12:18PM

Aurora (2018)


Directed by Louis Brough & Natalie Martins


Scarlett Light Media


This new Midlands short uses the region to re-imagine Sleeping Beauty in the Woods taking elements of both fantasy and drama in its new take on the established fairy tale.


We open on an ominous spinning wheel before waking up, funnily enough, with our lead Rose (Amelia Gabbard) heading downstairs on her birthday to a fate unknown.


In a kitchen we see an older lady, Aunt Fleur discuss a family secret with her own sister but unbeknownst to them both, Rose is within ear shot to this shocking truth. Here we find that Rose was taken from her parents who are both still alive and before they know it, they see Rose run off into the forest.


The directors use well-tailored fantasy costumes to evoke a world of wickedly wonder whilst the forest and woods are filmed in glorious green hues given the film an air of animation with their vivid and contrasting colours.


As Rose gathers her thoughts near a small brook, a stranger (David Wayman) arrives on a white horse. Again, the filmmaker takes us from the Midlands to a fantasy land complimented by a great sound mix and a fantastical string score.


The stranger expresses his fondness for her singing before the two embark on a walk around the woods and lakes. Gorgeous cinematography helps sells this wonderland and the acting is solid if a little melodramatic at times. Good location work is helped with the use of an historic building that could be almost gingerbread with its chocolate brown beams and flowery sweet garden.


One of her aunts eventually catches up with Rose to explain that Rose’s parents live in a nearby castle but she was hidden as a young child to avoid “something evil”. And then shares some of her own magical secrets with a wand literally up her sleeve.


The two directors have maintained and delivered on a special vision that takes a very different tact to many of the films from the region. It’s great to see this, and the Lord of the Rings influenced The Return of the Ring, focus on the fantasy genre. Especially when Tolkien’s real Middle-Earth was better known as the West Midlands.


In conclusion, the film is a well-executed and fun slice of folklore with its own spin. A magical tale with a real visual flair, you should check out Aurora for all its enchanting delights.


Mike Sales


Find out more about Aurora at the film’s official Facebook page here



By midlandsmovies, Jan 1 2019 11:44AM



ROSE


Directed by Edwin Miles


This new documentary comes from Edwin Miles, a local filmmaker from Bewdley in Worcestershire. Having recently completed his MA Dissertation project at the University of Bristol, Rose is a slice-of-life film that focuses on an important family member and her recently passed birthday.


The lady in question is the filmmaker’s own Grandma, Rose, who has just celebrated her 93rd birthday and we are introduced to various aspects of her regular life.


The film explores issues of age and ageing and in its 15-minute runtime the director uses an unobtrusive style which hovers around Rose as she goes about her daily business as another annual milestone is reached.


From speaking to the postman to changing the sheets on a bed, Rose is photographed with a fly-on-the-wall camera aesthetic. Stoic and yet vulnerable owing to her advancing years, Rose’s quiet dignity comes across in every frame and general everyday conversations are interspersed with some polaroid still photographs as well as home-movie footage.


An interesting observation of one person’s personal life, the film would have benefited from some interviews, intertitles or voiceover to give some context. Who is Rose? Who are these relationships and family members? These questions are not answered, which may be intentional, but has the unfortunate result of feeling like watching someone’s un-edited home movie footage - which subsequently came across a little flat.


More of a mood piece than a full-on documentary, the film feels unfinished at times and could do with more editing and structure. However, having said that, “Rose” gives a unique glimpse into a suburban life well-lived, shows Rose being supported by family members and ends up being both a respectful and realistic portrait of a loving lady.


Michael Sales


Find out more information about ROSE at IMDB here.



By midlandsmovies, Jan 1 2019 10:31AM



Midlands Review - God's Broken Things


Directed & Written By - Joe Facer & Mark Wisdom


2018


Filmed in the village of Morton in Nottinghamshire comes new film God's Broken Things.


Late at night Matthew, a young vicar, tears off his dog collar and turns to the bottle for comfort. He is waiting for a sign, a sign of approval from God. This evening will change everything, and he knows it. It will change the past, the present, and the future. For him and all those he holds close. Does God approve, does he even care?


There seems to be something of a fascination with men of the cloth on-screen of late. Productions of all sizes and scales are taking a look at priests, and more specifically the toll that their duties appear to take on them. God’s Broken Things is a prime example from the Midlands of this very thing. With echoes of BBC’s 2017 series Broken, this short film, written and directed by Joe Facer and Mark Wisdom, who also star in it, centres around a priest who is seemingly the heart and soul of the parish he works in, but who is bit of a flawed character himself.


The first thing that strikes you when watching the film is the way colours are used, almost as if they themselves are one of the film’s storytelling devices. Straightaway, the opening shots are all monochrome, and these switch to full colours when our protagonist experiences a flashback to more fondly remembered times. Combine this with a rather sombre score and you immediately get the feeling that our priest here is a man who is not at peace with himself.


So, with that, we shall get to the man of the hour, Joe Facer, who plays Father Matthew here. The emotional turmoil that he put across in his performance is only heightened by the many other elements of the film, as I previously mentioned. What I think he does very well on his own, however, is show that Matthew is determined to admit to the things he’s done and await whatever consequences may fall upon him.


For me, the entire main body of the project played out like some sort of confession, and Richard, played by Mark Wisdom, could be seen to be acting as a kind of God-like figure with the role he took. To me, there seemed to be a lot of symbolism within the film, and I think it’s one of those watches where the more work you’re willing to put into it, the more you will take away from it.


This is something that can be very well applied to the characters and the performances that have brought them to life here because they are very minimalist; there’s no major acting out by either actor here. Everything they do achieve is through subtlety, which in turn allows the viewer to work more with what it is they see, thus enabling them to view it in whatever way they see fit.


Another thing I liked about the film, which kind of ties into half of what I’ve just said, is that Matthew is presented as a man with a number of flaws. We learn throughout the film that he’s had his share of hardships in life, and that as a result he doesn’t totally believe himself fit to be in his line of work. It’s refreshing because too often we get the kinds of priests who are beyond ignorant to their own morality.


If I’m honest, it becomes boring. But here we get someone who is relatable because of the struggles they’ve experienced. It makes it easier to care about everything he says throughout the story.


God’s Broken Things is a definite watch for anyone who wants to see men of the cloth portrayed in a more human light, but also, if we take a look at the bigger picture, it’s probably a pretty good example of a hero who never necessarily wanted to be a hero. You can just take it for what it is, but I implore you to put as much effort into it as possible because you get more out it that way. Even as I’ve written this, ideas about what certain elements could mean or be interpreted as have kept coming to me, which is exactly the kind of thing I love. A gift that keeps on giving way after you’ve watched it. I must recommend!


Kira Comerford


Twitter @FilmandTv1010


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