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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, Dec 12 2018 03:34PM



Midlands Review - Reversal


Directed by Sheikh Shahnawaz


2018. Catharsis Films


The Midlands most prolific filmmaker™ Sheikh has released yet another short drama before Christmas in which he features his regular contributing actor Nisaro Karim in a brief tale of mystery.


Beginning in stark close-up, the film starts with Karim’s hooded character staring into space but we quickly cut to a shot of his abdomen and discover that he is in fact injured. How and why the audience may ask?


Zooming further out we see that another suited man (played by Angus Villiers-Stuart) is leaning over his body in a pedestrian underpass. His hands are soaked in his attempts to stop the flow of blood.


He slowly backs away from the body. Is he in shock? Does he think his help is futile?


Well, actually... [spoiler warning] his slow steps backwards reveal that the film is in fact shot in reverse. Suddenly a bloodied knife rises from the ground into his hands and its shown to the audience that this may not be the seemingly good Samaritan we first thought.


His heavy breathing cuts to Karim’s victim suddenly rising from the floor to set up a standoff between the two. And then we see another switch again, reversing roles and constantly toying with viewer expectations.


The film plays with time in a Nolan-esque way (a definite nod to Memento for sure) and with great soundtrack music by Savfk, there are also audio hints of reversed instruments evoking a feel of Zimmer’s Inception score.


A clever short, the film has lots to think about in its brief runtime and has a feel of another local movie called FEIHT (Midlands Movies Awards Best Short winner 2017) which uses a similar sleight of hand narrative and time twisting structure to play with audience perceptions.


Another winning formula of acting, music and technical editing, check out Reversal for an impactful short that delivers a lot in its brief (backwards) runtime.


Michael Sales


For more info on Sheikh and his film projects please check out the links and watch the full short below:


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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinesheikh




By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2018 10:39AM



Midlands Spotlight - Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers


Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers are a lively group of filmmakers and enthusiasts who meet twice a month in the West Midlands to create projects and inspire new and experienced filmmakers alike. Midlands Movies Mike Sales catches up with Jill Lampert to find out more.


Jill Lampert is the Membership Secretary of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers, a grass-roots organisation that meets at 7.45pm every second and fourth Thursday of the month.


Their get-togethers take place between September and June at Wylde Green Community Hall, Emscote Drivein Sutton Coldfield and they are a community of like-minded cinephiles who enjoy developing film-making skills and supporting their members with their projects.


Although members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers include people with many years of experience working in mainstream television, Jill says that the club is an ideal place for beginner filmmakers to take their first steps into filmmaking.


"There is always a warm welcome given to visitors and new members and the first visit is free!"


Many members are currently working on different projects - from a murder story, an excerpt from Shakespeare and a short comedy with special effects. There are also a number of work in progress documentaries underway too and the range of subjects vary from beauty spots in Derbyshire to a boy with a passion for cricket as well as a film on hedgehogs and also another about homes for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in France.


With such a wide range of experience and diversity of projects, SCMM has already created and completed a number of award-winning short films and their most recent work has included:


The Race to Death’s Door

Julian Austwick wrote and directed this ambitious short comedy film with many locations and a large cast.





Short Cut

Jack Reid wrote a short script which interested experienced filmmakers Ann and Arthur Fletcher. They developed the script and helped Jack to make this film featuring a shy birdwatcher.




A Helping Hand

Filmmaker Debbie Daniels’ first short film is about an elderly man who couldn’t sleep at night. He turned night into day but found this was isolating and lonely, so he turned to Dr Spellman for help. The doctor’s remedy was surprising.




The Attic

Members of Sutton Coldfield Movie Makers rented holiday cottages in Wales which doubled up as locations for this spooky short film by Andy Wills.




Behind the Signs

Three groups of members each put together a very short film explaining (in imaginative ways) the story behind a different pub sign. These three films were bound together by another story put together by a fourth group. Altogether some 27 club members were involved in making this film.


One special feature of this film was that members who had no experience in some aspect of filmmaking were invited to have a go. So the crew largely consisted of members who were trying out a new role e.g. directing for the first time, or doing the lighting for the first time.


For more information and to become a member check out the group's official page at


www.suttoncoldfieldmoviemakers.org.uk



By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2018 07:58PM



Midlands Review - Breakdown


Directed by Michael Ellis


“You just spent last night in a police station”.


And so says one of two male characters in a car as they drive through the countryside and come across a stranded woman attempting to get a phone signal as she stands next to a broken-down vehicle.


This is the set up of new Midlands film Breakdown from Michael Ellis and from the outset we get the impression that something very dark could be on the horizon involving this naughty duo.


Despite these shady themes the film is shot in stark daylight – throwing a bit of oddness into what could have been a potentially clichéd picking up a stranger on the road dynamic – but the quirky performances help to sell the unpleasant awkwardness as it plays out.


As the men stop to "help", they explain how their phones cannot be used to call for assistance (battery’s dead, left at home) and how they also know nothing of how to fix cars. This sets a tone of jet black comedy amongst what started as a seedy set up to the film.


Whilst the man who spent the night in the cells (Paul Findlay as “Passenger”) spins a yarn about his kindly offer of a lift, the second man’s worried brow (Dominic Thompson) is shown in close-up – hinting upon a repulsive inevitability he may have seen before. Offering to take her to a nearby garage, she reluctantly agrees to get into their car and the men and their new passenger drive off down the road together as we await their fate.


But director Ellis jumps 6 minutes before the story starts in an ingenious flashback which turns the tale upon its head. Without spoiling too much, the lady in distress (admirably played by Tenisha White) may not be as unaware as the first half of the short makes her out to be. We also get to see her character become less victim and more intimidator with an hilarious delivery of “piss off” which had me laughing despite the more pressing serious matters.


A fantastic short that handles its different tones with expertise, the twist in narrative during the middle section completely changes the direction of the story. As we are given new information we are suddenly thrust into a more complex dilemma which is surprising yet satisfying. Paul Findlay in particular as a man with obnoxious intentions gives a believable yet frightening turn, with his staring eyes and superb deadpan delivery of the lies his character spins.


With the right balance of story and plot twists and a trio of great acting turns in the film's brief 7-minutes, Michael Ellis has delivered a great short film that I hope not only does well on the festival circuit but brings more attention to this exciting filmmaker.


Mike Sales


Follow Michael and find out more about his film projects at his Twitter page: https://twitter.com/MEFilmsUK



By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2018 06:49PM



Midlands Review - Assassins


Written and directed by Liane Moonraven


Assassins is a new micro-short from filmmaker Liane Moonraven and is the first film the American director has completed since arriving in England. And she opens her film in the most English of settings – the good ol’ boozer – and it is here in the pub where her short crime story unfurls.


Liane also stars in the short herself and enters the pub with Midlands Movies favourite Nisaro Karim, star of many shorts from the region. As Nisaro’s unknown man lights a cigarette, the barman brings over some stiff drinks before Liane’s character expresses a stern “We’re expecting a call” to give the short a little mystery from the outset.


As the locals drink, laugh and text, the buzz of the pub is interrupted by the expectant call as the barman hands over a Post-It to the double act at their table.


Downing their drinks they reveal their target is in the car park and with the short’s title of Assassin, the audience may expect a brutal slaying from the pair.


The assassins exit the bar through a back corridor and the woman takes out her gun ready to engage in their next mission. However, a sting in the tale reverses the audience’s expectations and provides a explosive bullet to the narrative.


A micro-short can be difficult to review given the extremely condensed time frame but Liane Moonraven gets over a lot of information in a few shots and with minimal dialogue. With a solid foundation, the film creates a dash of tension yet I hope to see a few more artistic choices in the shots for her next film.


A good grounding, Assassins is the sort of film that a filmmaker can build upon as they develop, where the right balance of character, editing and narrative is delivered simply and with little fuss. Check out the short on the YouTube video embedded below and expect bigger and better things off the back of this level-headed debut.


Mike Sales





By midlandsmovies, Oct 13 2018 02:26PM



The Initiation (2018) Dir. Sheikh Shahnawaz


Local independent filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz is back with The Initiation, a short film about two childhood friends who have their relationship put to the test when they meet a local crime boss they are interested in working for.


The Initiation starts off in an underground multi-storey car park, quiet with no one around but Aaron and Neil (Sam Malley and Dominic Thompson) as they wait nervously. Their long friendship is clear as they fist bump and agree to stand by each other no matter what, ‘since day one’ Neil says with an anxious Aaron agreeing.


As a dark car creeps up to them it’s clear this is their ride. A window rolls down to reveal a mysterious figure smoking. “Get in” he calmly demands. Neil makes the mistake of getting into the front passenger seat which is quickly met with another demand from the man to get in the back.


As the car drives out of the underground and into the streets it is clear this is one of Sheikh Shahnawaz’s most ambitious films yet as he films in external locations and makes it look effortless.


As the three men pull up on a quiet industrial estate they enter a dilapidated building with just a chair and a small table next to it. It is revealed that the strange man is Vinnie (Nisaro Karim) a local crime boss and a man to be respected and feared within the area. He takes the only seat and sits before Aaron and Neil as he quizzes them over a vacant position in his crew.


Vinnie makes sure to mention however that with the sought after lifestyle he can provide, the money, cars, respect, the job also brings with it responsibilities, one of which is making “difficult decisions whilst in difficult situations”. The initiation has begun.


I really enjoyed The Initiation, the premise being one of the main reasons. It is an interesting dynamic to have two loyal friends have the opportunity to make something of themselves albeit illegally but have them be prepared to do something drastic to achieve this.


Another factor of this short film I really enjoyed was the menacing performance by Catharsis Films regular Nisaro Karim, he seemingly towers over the other two men physically and mentally. Karim brings that authenticity to the role and brings Vinnie to life.


I would have liked to have seen more of a build up as it gears towards the finale as their friendship is ultimately tested it feels a tad rushed. However, this doesn’t detract from the fact this is a strong, short film. It is great to see well-made, entertaining genre films being made in this region by what seems to be the busiest and most determined filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz.


What’s next Catharsis films? I can’t wait.


Guy Russell


Twitter @BudGuyer


Watch the full short below:




By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2018 09:02AM



Student filmmaker tackles dark drama in new short film Terminal


Ben Evans is a student filmmaker studying in Derby who has created a new short film project called ’Terminal’ which he has written and also directed in 2018.


Starring Sophie Bloor from BBC One's 'In the Dark', the film is a short drama about the mental health of a young character towards the end of her life.


A tough uncompromising look at illness, ‘Terminal’ tells the story of Ellie (Sophie Bloor) who is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at the age of eight. With her father soon walking out on her, the story is picked up eleven years later. And he returns to find Ellie on her deathbed hoping to be part of her life again.


Joining Sophie will be Alix Ashurst as Helen, David Castleford as Mark, Tom Hendryk as the doctor and actress Ellie Jackson as a young Ellie.


Crew wise Ben is excited to have Jon Altham from SoundWave Studios on board to compose music on 'Terminal' and has just released the official poster for the film to the public (see above).


And with the filmmaker currently deep in post-production, Ben has high hopes for his short and is already looking at entering the film onto the festival circuit later in 2019.


Check out the full information about the film over on IMDB here:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8570308/?ref_=rvi_tt


And for regular updates follow the film’s social media at Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Terminal-Short-Film-1513325858777724





By midlandsmovies, Sep 6 2018 11:59AM



Heather (2018)


Directed by Scott Driver


A scream of ecstasy or agony opens new 3-minute short Heather, the latest from Midlands filmmaker Scott Driver


Previously directing other impactful shorts such as HIM and Restroom, it is quickly made clear by the director that these cries are not from pleasure. Or are they? We cut from legs writhing on a bed to a bespectacled woman raining hammer blows on a body in the bedroom who seems more than happy as to what she is doing.


Scrubbing the resulting blood from her face in the mirror, our assailant is then seen dragging a heavy black bin bag outside.


“What’s in the bag?” asks a delivery man who is passing by, leaving us with a palpable tension in the air as she struggles to come up with a suitable reply. And whilst leaving a package he runs off disturbed with what he has witnessed.


A nearby DIY shop comes to the rescue as our unidentified lead purchases a shovel and the audience may guess where this could lead. And yes, a we’re soon off to a wooded area for the body to be disposed.


Director Driver has an eye for showing not telling an audience the main points of his plot and keeps the dialogue at a minimum. The confines of a short run time can force directors into making snappier edits and trims which I’d love to see continue into their longer local feature films.


Created as part of the regional High Peak Independent Film Festival, the short was entered into their 10 hour film challenge. That’s right. Make a movie in just 10 hours – from start to finish. This goes some way to explaining the lack of dialogue but the short is all the better for its visual, rather than expositional, story-telling.


An ending involving a make-shift wooden headstone and a heavy suggestion this may not have been the first killing the perpetrator has committed draws the film to a close. Will she get caught? It’s not looking likely. Lucky Heather indeed.


Driver’s speedy construction of plot, script and narrative combined with the more than fine high production values and shot choices sees a superb short created in super-fast time that also contains a hard impact and an assured confidence from a talented group of local filmmakers.


Mike Sales





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