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Husk (DVD)

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After Dark Originals Husk on DVDStarring Devon Graye, Wes Chatham, C.J. Thomason, Tammin Sursok, Ben Easter

Directed by Brett Simmons

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment


Being a child of the Midwest, I am a sucker for horror in corn fields. Children of the Corn? A longtime favorite of mine that always manages to creep me out no matter how many times I’ve seen it. But when you add killer scarecrows to the mix, for me that’s like finding the prize in the proverbial cereal box so undoubtedly I enjoyed the hell out of Husk, one of the latest features set to be released by After Dark Films as part of their After Dark Originals series.

The beginning of Husk is like a lot of horror movies we’ve seen over the years where we are introduced to a group of kids on a road trip. And while waxing poetic on life, romantic interests, and conflicts that exist amidst this merry band of travelers, suddenly dead birds fall from the sky (art imitating life these days), causing a car crash in the middle of nowhere. That’s when things really get interesting.

When everyone comes to after the accident, driver Chris (Thomason) awakens to find his younger brother, Johnny (Easter), missing from the car and nowhere to be found. As the others start to revive post-accident, they come to realize that the corn fields surrounding them are hiding some very dark secrets; and as they desperately try to find a way home, the travelers begin to understand that the scarecrows guarding the fields aren’t ready to let them go that easily.

As Chris and his friends Brian (Chatham), Natalie (Sursok), and Scott (Graye) go searching the fields for Johnny and explore an abandoned farm in the center of the fields in hopes of finding a phone or assistance, they come to discover what spawned the evil in these corn fields in particular and try to come up with a way to beat the deadly scarecrows at their own game.

It all sounds a little bit hokey, right? Think again. I will be the first to admit I wasn’t looking for Husk to be much more than a “torture-corn” affair, but when things really get cooking inside the abandoned house (I won’t give that part away; the creep factor there is really worth waiting to see for yourself), I was suddenly pulled right into this world of vicious scarecrows that build their own burlap-adorning army with their victims.

And even though there isn’t much going on with a lot of the cast members (everyone handles their parts adequately), the one person from Husk whose performance I really enjoyed was Graye’s portrayal of Scott, the ‘geek’ of the group who channels the darker energies of the mysterious farm and begins to put the puzzle together for everyone. He’s someone I’d like to see more of, both in and out of the horror genre.

The thing about Husk that ultimately worked for me was that it established a set of rules (or a mythology) and stuck to it. Director Simmons (who also penned the script) doesn’t expect us as viewers to believe that supernatural scarecrows exist, but what he does effectively as a storyteller is establish a believable back-story to these creatures and pull you right into the victims’ world with well-paced energy and some really great moments of tension.

And for those that need their corn fields to run red with blood, fear not, as Husk features some awesomely fun gore moments (without being gratuitous) and probably some of the creepiest sewing machine-related moments that would make Leatherface proud.

As with the other After Dark Originals DVD releases, all we have here in terms of special features are a scant couple of things stamped out from the usual DVD assembly line. We get cast and crew audio commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Pity. Husk was one of the best of this year’s batch.

If you’re like me and are up for some deadly scarecrow fun, I definitely urge you to check out Husk. The ending alone is worth the price of admission, and I’m hoping to see what kind of mayhem Simmons can cook up if he gets to turn this film into a franchise.

Special Features

  • Cast/crew audio commentary
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette

    Film:

    3 out of 5

    Special Features:

    2 out of 5

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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.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    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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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    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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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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