Starring Rita Artmann, Joe Bauer, Dryden Bingham, Daniel Johnston Andrew O’Sullivan
Directed by Joe Bauer
Distributed by Left Films
It would be unfair given my recent remarks toward Fury: The Tales of Ronan Pierce (review) for its exceptionally obvious ADR if I didn’t let it be known that The Killage suffers from the same problem. It seems that just about every piece of dialogue in this low budget indie slasher/comedy is looped in post-production, and it’s off-puttingly awkward.
But there’s also one huge difference between the two: The Killage is less likely to make you crush your own carotid artery in a desperate search for sweet release than it is to have you grip your sides in good-natured laughter.
In Joe Bauer’s flick, a group of young co-workers are brought together for a team-building forest retreat only to discover that one of their number is a psychopathic killer. Picking them off one by one, the wooden-masked murderer butchers their way through the tribe in standard slasher film style while the hapless, constantly bickering survivors try to figure out who the culprit is.
Focused more on the comedy than it is the scares, The Killage is a relatively simple affair sporting an obviously amateur cast… one which, with few exceptions — most notably Artmann as kickass-survivor-with-sex-appeal Emily — feels like little more than a group of friends who have set out to have a fun time making their own film. It’s juvenile and low-brow, throwing out dick jokes, piss jokes, an asshole character named Dickman (who also happens to be in a wheelchair) and a swathe of stereotypes, like Scary Movie crossed with everything-be-damned Aussie humour — but it works.
From the hilariously deadpan performance by Andrew O’Sullivan as the knuckleheaded (and almost perpetually nude) Jock to some great running jokes such as Andre (Cameron Sowden) constantly asserting the fact that he doesn’t do drugs, at even the slightest provocation, there’s rarely a couple of minutes that go by without a clever call-back or piece of smart-mouthed smarm.
Things are occasionally pushed too far — talking severed heads, for example, just don’t work in this realm of mere slapstick — but for the most part it does well in managing its own levels. It isn’t for everyone, make no mistake — if you demand biting satire, anything remotely intellectual, or take affront to stereotypes or “lazy” humour when it comes to your comedy you’d do well to give The Killage a wide berth.
There’s plenty of gory mayhem to go around, marred only occasionally by an abundance of CGI which is glaringly lo-fi in some spots, but really quite impressively rendered in others given the home-grown nature of the film. It’s rough in more than a few places — there’s no denying that — but The Killage manages to overcome its limitations by offering plenty of spark and a breezy willingness to please.
An unexpected delight, The Killage proves a worthwhile treat once adjusted to its particular stride and irreverent outlook.
Left Films bring The Killage to UK DVD sporting a stable of special features that puts most other releases of small indie flicks to shame. First up, there’s a lively cast and crew feature commentary, followed by a staggering 85 minutes of “fly on the wall” style behind-the-scenes footage. After that, director Bauer steps in for a 33-minute look at the film’s digital visual effects… and there’s a hell of lot more in there than you’d think. This is a very enlightening and surprising featurette, made a lot of fun to watch by Bauer’s self-deprecating humour and openness.
Next up there’s a short featurette on the the film’s music (which ends rather amusingly in the composing software crashing), around 30 minutes of outtakes and bloopers, two trailers and two photo galleries from the film’s shooting which are backed up with commentary by Artmann and Bauer.
Finally, the entire 167 pages of The Killage‘s storyboards are yours to watch unfold, accompanied by the film’s score, should you wish.
A superb package overall. You simply couldn’t ask for more when it comes to a film of this stature.
- Commentary with Rita Artmann, Dryden Bingham, Andrew O’Sullivan & Joe Bauer
- Behind the Scenes
- Visual Effects Featurette
- Music Featurette
- Photo Galleries
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual
Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.
Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!
Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!
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The Housemaid Review – Love Makes the Ghost Grow Stronger
Written and directed by Derek Nguyen
Vietnamese horror films are something of a rarity due largely to pressure from the country’s law enforcement agencies that have warned filmmakers to steer clear of the genre in recent years. The country’s exposure to the industry is limited, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of filmmakers out there that are passionate and determined to get their art out into the world. IFC Midnight has stepped up to the plate to shepherd writer/director Derek Nguyen’s period ghost thriller The Housemaid in hopes of getting it in front of American horror fans.
Aside from a few moments that delve into soap opera territory, Nguyen’s film is full of well-crafted scares and some surprisingly memorable scenes that sneak up at just the right times. For history buffs there’s also a lot of material to sink your teeth into dealing with French Colonial rule and mistreatment of the Vietnamese during the 1950’s. Abuse that, if you’re not careful, could lead to a vengeful spirit seeking atonement.
Desperate and exhausted after walking for miles, an orphaned woman named Linh (Kate) seeks refuge and employment as a housemaid at a large rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina. Once hired, she learns of the dark history surrounding the property and how her mere presence has awakened an accursed spirit that wanders the surrounding woods and dark corners of the estate. Injured in battle, French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud) returns to preside over the manor and, unexpectedly, begins a dangerous love affair with Linh that stirs up an even darker evil.
Told in flashbacks, the abuse of workers reveals a long history of mistreatment that enshrouds the surrounding land in darkness and despair, providing ripe ground for a sinister spirit that continues to grow stronger. Once it’s revealed that the ghost has a long history with Laurent before her death, the reasons she begins to kill become more and more obvious as the death toll piles up. Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle among Laurent, Linh, and the specter of Laurent’s dead wife.
Powered by desire to avenge tortured workers of the past and the anger fueled by seeing her husband in the embrace of a peasant girl, the apparition is frightening and eerily beautiful as she stalks her victims. One scene in particular showing her wielding an axe is the most indelible image to take away from the film, and other moments like it are what make The Housemaid a standout. The twisted sense of romance found in a suffering spirit scorned in death is the heart of the story even if the romance between the two living lovers winds up having more screen time.
The melodrama and underwhelming love scenes between Linh and Laurent are the least effective part of The Housemaid, revealing some of Nguyen’s limitations in providing dialogue and character moments that make us connect with these two characters as much as we do when the ghost is lurking around the frame. What does help to save the story is a well kept secret revealing a connection with the housemaid and the apparition.
Honestly, if this was an American genre film, the limitations seen in The Housemaid might cause more criticism, but seeing an emerging artist and his team out of Vietnam turn out a solid product like this leads me to highlight the good and champion the effort in hopes of encouraging more filmmakers to carry the flag. Ironically, the film is set for a U.S. remake in the near future.
The Housemaid hits select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms TODAY, February 16th.
Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle.
Scorched Earth Review – Gina Carano Making Motherf**kers Pay In The Apocalypse
Starring Gina Carano, John Hannah, Ryan Robbins
Written by Bobby Mort and Kevin Leeson
Directed by Peter Howitt
Let me preface this review by stating right off the bat that I’m a huge Gina Carano fan, and will pretty much accept her in any role that she’s put in (are you going to tell her no), regardless of the structure and plausibility behind it, and while that might make me a tad-bit biased in my opinions, just accept it as that and nothing more. Now that I’ve professed my cinematic devotion to the woman, let’s dive headlong into her latest film, Scorched Earth.
Directed by Peter Howitt, the backdrop is an apocalyptic world brought on by the imminent disaster known as global warming, and the air has become toxic to intake, generally leaving inhabitants yacking up blood and other viscous liquids after a prolonged exposure, unless you’re one of the privileged that possesses a filter lined with powdered silver. Filters of water and the precious metal are in high demand, and only true offenders in this world still drive automobiles, effectively speeding up the destruction of what’s left of the planet. Carano plays Atticus Gage, a seriously stoic and tough-as-nails bounty hunter who is responsible for taking these “criminals” down, and her travels lead her to a compound jam-packed with bounties that will have her collecting riches until the end of time…but aren’t we at the end of time already? Anyway, Gage’s main opponent here is a man by the name of Thomas Jackson (Robbins) – acting as the leader of sorts to these futuristic baddies, the situation of Gage just stepping in and taking him out becomes a bit complicated when…oh, I’m not going to pork this one up for you all – you’ve got to invest the time into it just as I did, and trust me when I tell you that the film is pretty entertaining to peep.
While Carano’s acting still needs some refining, let there be no ever-loving mistake that this woman knows how to beat the shit out of people, and for all intents and purposes this will be the thing that carries her through many a picture. There are much larger roles in the future for Gina, and she’ll more than likely take over as a very big player in the industry – hey, I’m a gambling man, and I’ve done pretty well with my powers of prognostication. With that being said, the thing that does hold this picture back is the plot itself- it’s a bit stale and not overly showy, and when I look for a villain to oppose the hero, I’m wanting someone with at least a shred of a magnetic iota, and I just couldn’t latch onto anything with Robbins’ performance – his character desperately needed an injection of “bad-assness” and it hurt in that particular instance.
In the end of it all, I’d recommend Scorched Earth to fans of directionless, slam-bang wasteland pics with a touch of unrestrained violence…plus, Gina Carano is in it, so you can’t go wrong. If you’re not a fan of any of the above, feel free to skate on along to another piece of barren territory.
Looking to get your butt kicked in the apocalypse with extreme prejudice? Drive on up, and allow me to introduce you to someone who’ll be more than happy to oblige.
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