Starring Steven Hill, Jenna Lewis, Bob Guiney, Trish Schneider, Trishelle Cannatella, and a bunch of other folks from the reality TV craze who cannot act.
Directed by Robert Kubilos
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
This is the true story of thirteen reality TV stars, picked to work in a house where a bad horror movie is being filmed. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting REAL. The Real Crappy World of Bad Horror Cinema! Dear god. Let me preface this by saying that I simply hate reality television. It’s just not real to me. Having a huge corporation pay you cold hard cash to co-exist with beautiful people all around the world just doesn’t seem realistic or daunting. When word of The Scorned first started spreading, I figured, “Hey. At least they’re gonna be killing each other. What’s not to like about that?” Little did I know what a true horror show this would turn into but not because of any spooky, supernatural, or slasher-like activity that you’d expect from a horror film. Because there’s not a single person in this entire film that should ever be allowed to attempt acting again under any circumstances. Before we get into all of that, let’s touch upon the story.
Meet Raina, an actress whose career is hitting its stride. Everything’s going great for her until she catches her boyfriend Matt cheating on her with her best friend Nichola. After some truly painful dialogue the threesome chase each other around their beach house until eventually Raina ends up having her throat slit by Matt via a fire poker that was laying around by the pool. Fire poker. Pool. Fire poker. Pool. Oh hell, I don’t know why it was there. Maybe death by large inflatable Shamu prop would have been easier to swallow. Anyway, Raina, despite massive trauma to her throat, ends up in a coma, and Matt and Nichola part ways, each blaming the other for the occurrences of that horrid night.
Fast forward a bit, and Matt has now rented out the beach house to a few friends that end up being the victims of the astrally projected spirit of Raina. One by one they’re taken out in various ludicrous ways that include: death by sink hole, and (insert biting sarcasm here –>) my personal favorite, death by exploding lava lamp. Sound dumb? You betcha. In fact, things end up being so ridiculous it’s hard to even know where to start. So for lack of a better place let’s start at the very beginning.
The Scorned was birthed as a 2005 TV show on the E! Entertainment Television Network titled Kill Reality. Basically it was a reality show about reality show stars getting together to make a horror film. The Scorned is the end result. What the folks behind this neglected to realize is that these people are indeed celebrities — but not because of their acting skills. Putting them into this environment where they are expected to do more than show off their bodies and argue is a HUGE mistake. The acting, if that’s what you would venture to call it, is of the high school play caliber. However, I do not place the blame entirely on these folks for this film being so bad. We as horror fans do not watch these films expecting thespian-like performances. Making The Scorned suck is a true group effort. Everyone from director Robert Kubilos, whose idea of competent film-making involves the audience having to sit through the same scene told over and over again from different perspectives, to the three writers that came up with such genius verbiage as screaming out the line “I’m going to kill you!” to a ghost does their part to make this as piss poor of an experience as humanly possible. Wow. Just wow. Honestly, the only good thing that I can say about the film itself is that there’s a lot of nudity in it. I’m sure that alone will have reality TV buffs panting heavily. As for me? I’d rather see gore.
Writing a DVD review for this film is not an easy task. To their credit Anchor Bay has delivered a stellar package with the release of this film, and as a result this review gets a slightly higher rating than if it were a standard release. Fans of Kill Reality will be immensely pleased with this two-disc collector’s edition. Everything you could want from a DVD is here in spades including your standard behind-the-scenes stuff, gag reels, a look at the Kill Reality show, a featurette regarding reality TV as a whole, and a commentary that plays like a blessing as the filmmakers drown out the horrid acting with their steadily amusing banter. One extra that caught my eye on the DVD’s packaging was The Member’s Only Key to the Never-Ending DVD Extra. Never-ending? Do we honestly need more? Can anyone with a shred of sanity even endure such agony? All this really ends up being is a special password to enter at the film’s official website that allows fans the opportunity to take advantage of web forums and even more behind-the-scenes stuff. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you’re truly in luck!
In the end what we’re left with is a very good package for a very bad film. In the case of The Scorned, reality bites! Unfortunately the door is — of course — left open for a sequel, but before anyone goes through with that, please, if you’re reading this, heed these words, I implore you: Truth can be much more disturbing than fiction, and reality is best left to those living it, not watching it. Damn you, Mtv! It’s all your fault.
Hell hath no fury like a horror fan scorned.
Rob C’s History of Reality TV featurette
Kill Reality behind-the-scenes featurette
Outtakes, bloopers, and on-set fights
The Member’s Only Key to the Never-Ending DVD Extra
Discuss The Scorned in our forums!
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
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.
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.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
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!
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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
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.
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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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
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