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Mutants (UK DVD)

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MutantsReviewed by Gareth Jones

Directed by David Morlet

Starring Hélène de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat

Distributed by Momentum Pictures


With impressive French titles such as Inside, Frontier(s) and Martyrs sitting high atop many a horror lovers’ list over the past few years, the most recent entry from the continent’s new wave comes to the UK in the form of David Morlet’s Mutants.

Set in a bleak apocalyptic future where a virus has turned most of the population into disfigured, ravenous creatures, the film follows loving couple Sonia and Marco as they struggle to survive. In the beginning the couple are held under the control of a military woman who demands that, at any cost, they make contact with military station NOAH – the supposed last bastion of hope.

Paramedic Sonia is at odds with the “kill ‘em all” approach our military figure adopts, and it isn’t long before one encounter sees Marco both suffering a gunshot wound and a heady dose of infected blood in the mouth. The pair hole up in an abandoned facility as Sonia fights desperately to preserve her rapidly mutating beau and figure out a way to contact the outside world, however a roving band of ruthless survivalists eventually show up to give us the zombie horde ending we hoped wasn’t going to happen.

You see, for the first half of Mutants the film adopts an intimate position between the tragic couple, promising a deeper, more character-driven study than what we actually end up getting. Once Sonia and Marco make it to the facility, it becomes less and less effective with each progressive stage of the infection. Marco essentially shouts at her to begin with, finds himself losing hair and spitting up blood, and then starts raging out á la 28 Days Later. Each time, there is no actual further insight into his character’s psyche – he just breaks down and cries at the end of his fits. Repeat until Sonia eventually locks him up. The emotional tie between them, and the unbearable pain that must follow in this situation, is never explored to the depths that the work relies on.

The final groan comes once the survivalists show up. They are non-characters. Fodder in the purest sense; and once they appear and begin abusing Sonia for basically no reason whatsoever, you just know the film, like Marco, is about to devolve into nothing much more than a bunch of running and screaming. Not that that’s a bad thing in many cases, but most of the mutant-attack gore is entirely off-screen (mainly blood and grue splatters from off camera), and with such a promising opening it ensured that ultimately the film is a disappointment.

On a technical level, Mutants fares excellently. The muted colour palette of clinical blues and greens adds a severely desolate feeling to the proceedings and director Morlet does well in creating impact with the violence. His use of shaky-cam here is actually very effective and not at all distracting, and the flying viscera and mud during the climactic scenes stand out crisply. The gore and make-up effects are pretty impressive too, when you get a good look at them – however Marco’s final mutant appearance is somewhat disappointing.

The premise and themes of Mutants hold a ton of potential, but the script fails to realise any of it. Given some more effort in the writing department, this could have (and should have) been the zombie equivalent of Cronenberg’s The Fly. Instead, we just have a well made but sub-par 28 Days Later rip-off.

Special features on Momentum’s DVD come in the form of the trailer. That’s it.

Special Features

  • Trailer
  • Film

    2 out of 5

    Special Features

    1/2 out of 5

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    7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here

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    Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar

    Directed by Kimble Rendall


    If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?

    Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.

    We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.

    All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.

    • Film
    2.5

    Summary

    A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE

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    Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.

    What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic

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    Starring Father Gabriele Amorth

    Directed by William Friedkin


    Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.

    It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.

    The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?

    In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.

    Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.

    Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.

    Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!

    As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.

    • The Devil and Father Amorth
    2.0

    Summary

    See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.

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