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Prevenge: Movie Review. The best pregnant, slasher, comedy, horror movie…ever.

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The three  Greek Furies that feature prominently in the 1934 Noirish movie, Crime Without Passion, are the central metaphor in Alice Lowe’s extraordinarily dark Prevenge, billed as the world’s  first pregnant, slasher, comedy, horror movie.

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In it, Alice Lowe’s character, Ruth, embarks on a revenge murder spree goaded on by her helium-voiced, gestating baby.

It takes her to Wales and, in one breathtaking scene, the streets of Cardiff on Halloween night where she claims she almost needed protection from the boozed-up locals in a sequence reminiscent of Scarlett Johnassonn’s Under The Skin street walk in Glasgow.

The reason for her bloody revenge spree is only revealed in drips (so I won’t spoil it – like a preview I read before the screening did for me) which adds greatly to the narrative tension.

The making of this low budget Film Four offering is remarkable.  Lowe was offered development money and finding herself pregnant used her condition to inspire this blackest of black script.  She then wrote, produced, cast and filmed (in 11 days) the whole affair before her baby arrived.

Seeing an actor perform whilst heavily pregnant, and genuinely playing a pregnant character, is a rarity (my only recollection is Frances McDormand in Fargo) and Lowe certainly makes the most of the opportunity.  Shooting took place in her late third Trimester.

The Furies are the ultimate avenging angels and she uses the extraordinary scenes from Crime Without Passion to symbolise her quest for justice, viewing the movie from the comfort of her hotel room where she takes respite, despite noisily bonking near neighbours, from her exhausting killings.

The killings themselves are simple but bloody affairs and each has hilarious set ups.  Can she complete her task before the long arm of the law catches up on her careful forensic clean ups?  You’ll have to see it to find out.

This is classic British black comedy at its best.  Using its low budget as a virtue but still making some moments of genuinely great cinematography, most notably in an exotic pet shop and a beautiful full facial dream sequence in a yoga class.

It has echoes of Mike Leigh’s early work and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is an obvious reference point.  Obvious because Lowe is its co-star and it too shares a murderous plotline.

But, comparisons aside, this is an entirely original take on several genres that does its damnedest to create a genre of its own.

Whether there’s room for thousands of pregnant, slasher, comedy, horror movies is debatable.

So we’ll just have to agree on one thing.  The original and best.

 

 



The Girl With All The Gifts: Movie Review

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OK I’m a sucker for a Zombie movie.  (One of my all time favourite genres.)

But this trumps mere Zombie movies.  This is a ‘kid’ Zombie movie and that raises the bar in its horrificness.

(That mask.)

(The wheelchairs.)

The main protagonist is a 10 year old Zombie being held captive in a military/medical establishment in the home counties with another 20 of her sort.

They are research fodder.

The charming, intelligent Melanie (played entirely convincingly and extremely empathetically throughout by debutant Sennia Nanua) it transpires has eaten herself out of her mother’s womb at the time that the world had fallen victim to a hideous fungal invasion that turned humans into Zombies.

Few have survived.

One is Melanie and her cronies’ teacher Helen Justineau (also well played by Gemma Arterton).  She and Melanie have a special bond that forms the backbone of the movie.

In the early establishing scenes the tension is palpable aided by an excellent soundtrack by  Cristobal Tapia de Veer, and when Paddy Considine (the good, bad guy army officer) lets  a classroom of the wheelchair bound critters have a ‘sniff’ of his humanity the reaction is unpleasant to say the least.

It becomes a road trip, as Zombie movies often do, with a series of set pieces gradually whittling down the cast (which includes the excellent Glenn Close) and gradually building the relationship between Arterton and Nanua; which is actually pretty believable.

Although the movie slightly outstays its welcome (one or two set ups too many I’d say) it’s good throughout.  Genuinely creepy, an original ‘take’ on the genre although borrowing heavily from 28 Days Later and, especially, I am Legend, which clearly inspired the excellent set-build and CGI effects of an abandoned London.

The ending lacks conviction but overall it’s a highly meritable addition to the Zombie canon.

One of the best in my opinion.



Laurence O’Keefe. My new favourite Musical theatre writer.

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In the past fortnight I have had the pleasure of being in the audience for two Larry O’Keefe Shows.  Batboy: The Musical and Heathers: The Musical.

He is best known for Legally Blonde.

I have yet to see Legally Blonde, but the two lesser shows in his income stream are both outrageous, hilarious, original and compelling from start to finish.

Both productions were university musical theatre society shows (Batboy: Glasgow Uni Cecilians and Heathers: Dundee Uni Operatic Society) and both were triumphs.

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His style is, shall we say, unorthodox and treads in the same furrow as Avenue Q, Jerry Springer The Opera and, I imagine not having seen it, Book of Mormon.

Irreverent, rude, taboo challenging.

If you’ve seen Avenue Q you’ll love ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’ and that’s a good reference point as in these O’Keefe shows we get zero racism BUT we DO get insights into incest, homophobia, mental health issues, gang rape, mouth sword fencing and a smattering of other ‘uncomfortable’ observations.

Foul language, extreme sexual references and semi-nudity pepper both shows.  They are a delight and I will forever be looking for Fringe and amateur productions in the years to come.

Thank you Larry.  You’ve made me very happy.

 

 



Intelligent Horror. It Follows
March 6, 2015, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

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It Follows begins how it ends.

Mysteriously.

A young woman runs from her suburban home half dressed, terrified, confused.

She crosses the road haphazardly, then runs back to her house picks up her bag and escapes in her car, with her father shouting after her trying to work out what the hell is going on.

It is not explained.

The movie then unfolds.  No captions.  No narrative.  It just unwraps itself in a way I have never seen in horror.

Whilst it nods at convention (the music is unquestionably influenced by early John Carpenter and the cast is a bunch of Sorority kids) it is completely original in every other way.

It’s beautifully shot, carefully scripted without a single ham line and has a plot that is entirely unpredictable.

The basic premise is this.  A “thing” (monster, demon, zombie, entity: call it what you like) is passed between couples having sex.  And then it follows the ‘host’ until it is passed on to the next host, again following sex.

It manifests itself as a sort of walking zombie that follows the host.  Should it catch them it will not only kill them but possibly all those in the chain behind.

That’s easy to understand.  What isn’t is how our heroine Jay, played beautifully by Maika Monroe, attempts to resolve her plight.  Really, this is a rare horror performance, understated and properly acted.  Her fear is palpable.  And she doesn’t go wandering into unlit basements every five minutes.  It’s up there with Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween.

However, the plot becomes pretty confusing, but it kind of doesn’t matter because throughout this great movie you’re just taken in by its vitality, outstanding cinematography, freshness and the endless MacGuffins.

Seriously there must be 20 times you’re expecting to be scared to death (Hitchcock style musical and SFX builds) only for nothing to happen.

Anyone walking slowly in this movie could be the ‘entity’ and that’s repeatedly used as a trick.

Another great thing about it is the setting in Detroit.  It’s never overplayed but it adds a decaying creepiness that is entirely appropriate.

It’s a great addition to the world of horror.  Not as terrifying as some say, but absorbing and pure quality from start to startling finish.

 



The Shining Girls: Silence of the Lambs meets Dr Who.
August 6, 2013, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity | Tags: , , , , ,

credit for image to Drops of Jupiter

credit for image to Drops of Jupiter

Peter Capaldi, the erstwhile Malcolm Tucker and the new Dr Who, would have been comfortable surveying the script for this.  But too late, it’s probably already cast.  Because it’s already  “in development” as we speak, although, perhaps surprisingly, as a TV show, rather than a theatrical release, for Leonardo Di Caprio’s production company.

Time travel.  Swearing.  Grizzly homicide.  All the stuff Capaldi would have loved.  But he’ll have to make do with The Doctor for now.

Although Soutrh African writer Lauren Beukes’ has published a novel it is really a script in disguise.

But what a script.

It’s breathtakingly original in its concept and deftly played in its exposition.

Bit by bit the plot gives itself to you as you try to disentangle the hideous crimes of a man drawn to murder by some form of malevolent force that bases itself in a run down Chicago neighbourhood, but feasts itself on the antihero’s thirst for girls that ‘shine’.

Special girls who often ‘display’ as children, but thankfully don’t face the music until early adulthood.

Beukes’ antihero is certainly of Harrisian horrendousnes.

Lector would have approved.

Some of the killings are really quite graphic, others matter of fact.  All part of a plan.  And all subtly linked.

Unlike most serial killers who have time against them (only a matter of it before detection) this one has it on his side as he skips, almost blithely from decade to decade, day to day.

Out to get this bastard is sassy, spiky, frankly odd, journalistic intern Kirby who drives her mentor/boss wild with desire but enviable restraint is observed on his part (mostly).

She, a near fatal victim, but a remarkable escapee from Harper, the aforementioned fucker upper of young girls’ lives; out for revenge.  He, an ex alcoholic, divorcee with too much life under the bridge.  Sure, it’s a cliche but Beukes just about gets away with it.  (Certainly their relationship is the weakest aspect of the novel and threatens to overwhelm a badly directed screen version.)

However, in the main dialogue is good (scripty).

Character development is decent, but hardly Dickensian.

Nevertheless the whole is decidedly superior.

Gripping, pacy, original and sufficiently distasteful to give you the taste for more.

I liked it.



Paranormal Activity 2.
September 27, 2011, 7:51 pm
Filed under: creativity | Tags: , , , ,

There’s a fair bit of sequel snobbery being talked about PA 2.

“The original was made for £20 – this was £2 million and what’s the difference?” That sort of stuff. When really the answer is quite simple. The original was what it was; a super-creepy, lo fi masterpiece that was low on special effects and relatively high on fear, but not that much in the way of real jumps.

PA 2 whilst it cost more (but hey, £2m? hardly a fortune in cinema terms) also has very few special effects but has a lot more in the way of jumps. But much more significantly than this PA2 is unbelievably clever in the way that it takes the storyline of PA 1 and weaves around it a story that elucidates both parts 1 AND 2.

The jumps are largely stock in trade but they are played out beautifully and the movie is paced brilliantly. Once again Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat convince with their unHolywood looks and performances and the introduction of Katie’s sister’s family is mostly convincing.

This is turning into a really great franchise. If PA3 (in theatres in October 2011) keeps it up (a big ask) it could even challenge the Godfather for consistency because Godfather 3 was naff.

Now before any of you think I am mad I am not saying PA1 and 2 compare to Godfather 1 and 2.

But let’s be honest few horror franchises to date have delivered their first two outings as consistently as this. Fingers crossed for part 3.



The Skin That I Live In by Almodovar

I’ve long admired Almodovar and it was with interest that I went to his his latest “horror” film.  To describe it thus is most certainly to misappropriate a psychological study of sexuality because it is most certainly not a horror movie.  Instead we see Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya develop the most unlikely relationship you’ll see in a very long time.

Banderas is electric as the cool and calculated surgeon using Anaya (wow) as his human guinea pig to develop a new kind of indestructible skin as he grieves the death of his wife as a consequance of a car fire.

It’s pretty hard to cover much more of the plot for fear of spoiling what is a tremendous film with perhaps the best twist I’ve ever seen in a cinema.  Almodovar is at his very best hear with an excellent supporting cameraman, Jose Luis Alcaine who makes the pictures zing from the digital screening that I was at.

Interestingly I saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy today as well and both were sound tracked by Alberto Iglesias.  This one brilliantly, Tinker, Tailor lamentably.