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Exclusive: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days Wraps Production – Director Ben Ketai Speaks!

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Exclusive: Producer Talks 30 Days of Night: Dark Days From the SetThis scribe recently caught up with Sony’s 30 Days of Night: Dark Days co-scripter (with Steve Niles) and director Ben Ketai, who filled us in on the status of his sequel to director David Slade’s 2007 vampire chiller 30 Days of Night.

Dread was on-set during the principal photography of Dark Days last November in Vancouver. See that item here.

We’re in the last couple of weeks of post-production,” Ketai, who previously helmed the 30 Days web series, said of Dark Days in early April. “It’s the home stretch here. We are in that last stage where every little bit you put into it makes it that much better: the sound, the color, and every new effects shot that goes in – it’s really exciting.

Starring Kiele (A Perfect Getaway) Sanchez, who takes over the role of ‘Stella’ as essayed by actress Melissa George in 30 Days of Night, Mia (De Palma’s The Black Dahlia) Kirshner, Rhys (“Entourage”) Coiro, Diora (Night of the Demons) Baird, Harold (“Lost”) Perrineau, Troy (A Marine Story) Ruptash, Monique (Cabin in the Woods) Ganderton, and Katherine (Ginger Snaps, “Supernatural”) Isabelle, Dark Days picks up a year after the original with Stella on a mission to eradicate the world’s vampire populace in order to avenge the death of her husband.

Scheduled for a DTV bow, the director said of the flick’s release plans, “I’m hoping that maybe it will be out by Halloween, although the market is always saturated with horror movies every October. Maybe Sony will want to wait until the horror season blows over.

As for his cinematic take on Steve Niles well-received 2004 graphic novel Dark Days (30 Days of Night, Book 2), “The film opens with sort of a montage of Stella reminiscing about what happened in Barrow eleven months earlier so one of the first scenes we see in Dark Days is that helicopter overhead shot (of the carnage) from the original,” revealed Ketai. “This movie begins with the last images of the first film, where Stella is holding Eben on the hillside and he burns up as the sun comes up, so I wanted to stay very true to that and thought it was a great opportunity for us to recap what happened at the end of the first movie for those who haven’t seen it. At the same time I wanted to introduce Kiele Sanchez as the new Stella and get it over and move along.

What’s sort of cool about it, too, is that Kiele plays such a different Stella in a narrative sense,” continued Ketai, “in that she goes through such a change in that year from the first story to the second story that I think it’s kind of cool that we have a different actress (for the role). I think Kiele’s going to be a household name in a couple of years, if not from this film than from something else. She’s really incredible.

Exclusive: Producer Talks 30 Days of Night: Dark Days From the SetPortraying Sanchez’s immortal nemesis in Dark Days is actress Mia Kirshner, and Dread queried the director on that actress’ approach to malevolent role of ‘Lilith,’ a vamp apparently older and deadlier than the original film’s ‘big bad’ Marlow (Danny Huston). “Mia was awesome and brought everything you’d expect from Mia Kirshner,” said Ketai. “For such a slight person as she (physically) is, she commands such power. The fact that her character of Lilith is powerful and is the queen of the vampires – possibly the oldest vampire on the planet – she doesn’t even really need to lift a finger to get shit done. Her henchmen and everyone around her kind of take care of things, and all of her actions are so minimal that whenever she does anything physically, it’s completely horrifying, and you are just sitting there waiting for her to speak or waiting for her to roll across the room, and we’ve tried to embrace that stoicism and that sort of eerie calm that comes with Lilith. I thought Kirshner was a great casting choice because she’s an actress that can say a whole lot without saying anything. She really did a nice job stepping into the role.”

As for the aural component of the film, Andres Boulton served in the capacity of the flick’s composer, and according to Ketai, “He did the score for the 30 Days of Night web series that I directed, and I thought he really knocked it out of the park with that, and I really wanted to see what he could do with a feature. He’s done a number of other features before – slasher films and a couple of comedies even. This film has really given him a chance to do what he does best, though, which is to deliver a very atmospheric score.

It is very different from the first film,” said the director of his approach to the material. “It’s been a challenge to maintain the integrity of the world that was created in the first film because we are working with about an eighth of the budget of what the first movie had. Funny enough, the story of Dark Days in the graphic novel is actually much less claustrophobic than the first film, which really capitalized on claustrophobia, and in this film – unfortunately with our budget – it’s a much bigger scaled movie because it’s all about Stella going in a journey to different cities.

With the geographical shift, too, came a visual one.

I really wanted to bring a very different color palette to Dark Days, much like the graphic novel had a different palette than the original, which was a desaturated and very monochromatic look, and here we created sort of more of a warm, tobacco-y, Southern California metropolis-like Los Angeles look,” said Ketai. “The thing about the 30 Days universe is that it’s so malleable. The vampires that Niles originally created were so unique to the genre, and in Dark Days they go even beyond that. In putting the vampires in a completely different context and setting, and with the lower budget of this film, we did a lot of hand-held (camera work), whereas with the first film it was much more of a slow and steady approach. I think (30 Days of Night helmer) David Slade did an amazing job of capturing the suspense with that story; he did a masterful job. With this film it’s kind of the opposite. It’s kind of almost like a forward-marching war movie with vampires, and we approached it with that kinetic, hand-held feel.

Dread couldn’t help but to ask if fans of the material can expect a cinematic incarnation of the third book in the series, Return to Barrow.

I hope so,” concluded the director. “I actually asked that question a couple of weeks ago. iles and I talk about it every now and then. In the back of my mind I’ve already been excited and eager to hopefully jump into (development on) Return to Barrow. I think it would be an awesome story to tell.

Sean Decker

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Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Robert Mockler


While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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Last Toys on the Left

Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

From the Funko Blog:
Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

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Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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