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Serial Slayer (2004)

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Starring Melanie (Heavenly Creatures) Lynskey, Sherri (The United States of Leland) Rappaport, Mary Lynn (Helter Skelter)Rajskub

Directed by Mark Tapio Kines


Now I know how The Foywonder must feel. You hear about a movie, maybe the studio offers you a preview copy of it or you come upon one, you decide to give it a chance…79 minutes later you’re that much stupider for having sat through the entire thing, wondering if maybe you’ve made the wrong career decision.

It’s movies like Serial Slayer that make me feel that much better there are movies like Chainsaw Sally and Hide and Creepin existence. This movie encompasses everything that’s wrong with indie films, and bores the viewer to tears while doing it.

How’s about a bit o’ plot, just to get this rolling? We start off through a ridiculously long credit sequence following around Grace (Rajskub) as she tries to find some location in the suburbs of L.A. Throughout it, a radio show is playing that tells us all about the mysterious “Crossbow Killer”, a psycho that’s been running from rooftop to rooftop, eliminating random people with a crossbow. Therein lies the only thing in this movie that comes anywhere close to inventive, and calling it that is quite a stretch, actually. It’s just…different, I guess. Not many psychos utilize crossbows in this day and age.

So anyway, she arrives and we discover she was invited to this house by a co-worker (Lynskey, showing the true meaning of “slumming it”), whose friend (Rappaport) doesn’t even like her. They were expecting more people, but it’s only the three of them all weekend, and the only thing they can seem to do is sit around and talk about the serial killer. Finally he strikes, but instead of just killing and moving on like he always does, he decides to continue to crawl around on the roof and make sure they’re all nice & scared before killing them.

The entire movie, short of the car at the beginning and some outside stuff at the end, takes place in this house, with these three boring women, doing a whole lot of nothing except sitting around and talking about how scared they are and how evil this killer is. And my good CHRIST is it ever boring.

Technically, the film has nothing going for it at all. They somehow managed to film the entire movie without the use of a single tripod from the looks of it, as everything is just shaky enough to be distracting. Not that you’ll mind being distracted from Serial Slayer, especially if it’s to find more things wrong with it. The acting is more or less atrocious, with Rajskub making a “someone’s pissing on me” face (my friend’s line, not mine unfortunately…) for 85% of the time she’s alive. And when the crossbow maniac does kill her? Well, let’s just say it’s more than a relief.

We have a killer that is revealed to be wearing a black sweater, a black ski mask, and black gloves in the middle of the summer. Fine, some people are just strange like that…but the problem is this killer is running around in the middle of the day! Why not just wear a big neon sign that says “Crossbow Killer” on it? I know, because that wouldn’t be quite a visible as a PURE BLACK OUTIFT in the middle of the goddamn DAY.

It’s obvious that not a single person involved with this movie had a clue what they were doing, and the “stars” had to be just doing it for a favor or something. I can’t imagine anyone sitting around brainstorming, coming up with this idea (which has every indication of being shot literally in one day), and actually convincing anyone it would be scary or even worthy of being called a horror film. What it is is a complete and utter waste of time, money (both yours if you rent it and whatever small amount the filmmakers spent on making it), and crossbow bolts, which I’m sure could’ve been put to better use hunting innocent woodland creatures or something.

Oh, and that cover? Pay no attention to it. The killer looks nothing like that, the film does not take place at night, the house doesn’t even resemble the one in the picture, and the crossbow he actually uses is about the size of a loaf of bread, not a rifle.


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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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