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Plague, The (DVD)

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Clive Barker's The Plague DVDStarring James Van Der Beek, Ivana Milicevic, Brad Hunt, Joshua Close, Brittany Scobie, and Dee Wallace

Directed by Hal Masonberg

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Before you get too excited by the mention of Clive Barker’s name above the title of this flick, let me set the record straight — this is not a true Clive Barker film. He served only as a producer, and from the looks of the finished product, it’s a pretty safe bet that his input was minimal at best. Imagine if you will that you are in a car that’s moving at one hundred miles per hour. The scenery is flying by in a blur and you’re having one hell of a good time. Then it happens. One of your tires pops, and all of a sudden you fly straight into a brick wall. It’s startlingly apparent there will be no recovery from this wreck. Your vehicle is crushed, and all the air is sucked straight out of your body. You’re left hanging limp. Everything that you know is fading fast and you begin to slip away into darkness. Yep, that about sums up my experience of watching Clive Barker’s The Plague. Some time ago Dread Central alumnus Ryan Rotten took in a screening of this film along with a few other critics who were asked what could be done to “salvage this movie”. Ryan replied, “Nothing”. He wasn’t kidding.

Finding your child unconscious and foaming at the mouth is no doubt a parent’s worst nightmare. But what if it’s not just your kid? What if it’s every kid on the planet who is under nine years old, and what if they were all crippled by this unspeakable malady simultaneously? That is the type of plague in question here. Despite the best efforts of doctors, scientists, and governments, no one can find a reason, much less a cure, for this mysterious disease. The world is left to watch helplessly in horror as all of its young lay in a comatose state waiting for their only activity: synchronized daily seizures. Suffice it to say that the kids are not all right.

Fast forward ten years. The brats are still in a coma, and we come to meet newly paroled Tom Russell (Van Der Beek). Tom’s got nowhere else to go so he heads home to hopefully restart the life he once knew with his family. Of course his reception is lukewarm at best, but they hesitantly accept him. After all, with the end of the world on the plate, who has time to worry about an ex-con? Tom finds himself in a strange new world. It’s illegal to have children because they too are born into comas, the plague shows no signs of veering from its path of rage, and as a result the human race is facing extinction. Then just as quickly as it all started, things take a turn for the worse — the kids wake up.

Call me crazy, but I would have been pretty content enjoying the quiet. One can dream.

Anyway, the newly awakened teens are up, about, and couldn’t give the slightest shit about puberty or pop culture. They want blood, and before you can say “He who walks behind the rows,” they start offing the adults left and right. That’s the set-up, and honestly it’s derivative but still pretty interesting.

Clive Barker's The Plague DVDSo what went wrong? A whole lot. For a while we were chugging along with sort of a different type of zombie movie. The rampaging adolescents are now all serving some kind of unknown collective consciousness, meaning that every time one of them learns something, they all do. As a whole they are calm, cool, collected, and bloodthirsty. They use weapons like guns and clubs and seem to even be able to absorb a person’s mind and soul when in arm’s length proximity. I was really digging it until the third act reared its dull and ugly head. Remember back in the day when evil could just be evil and we didn’t always need an explanation to wrap circumstances up in a pretty bow? The Plague tries to do that in the most ambiguous of ways. I only sort of knew what had happened by the film’s end. From what I gather the coma-kids learned to love, and within the blink of an eye The Plague went from a creepy little flick to a heartwarming Lifetime original film. The only thing missing was Lenny Kravitz (damn your fertile loins, Roxie Roker) prancing around my living room with his feathered boa while singing “Let Love Rule”.

Why?! How could this happen! Somebody please explain it to me?! Was I missing something? Some nugget of wisdom that could make this okay perhaps?

I sought answers in the special features. Immediately I went to the cast and crew commentary. Know what they talked about? Not the events in the film! I mean, why do that, right? Instead we get to hear all about what a wonderful job they all had done. “Wow, that’s a great shot”! “Man, that is some performance you turned in! You really made that scene work.” My blood pressure slowly began to rise. Joy. Then I headed on over to the only other supplement on the disc, the deleted scenes. With the exception of one cool excised kill, there was nothing of any value here either. In fact, these scenes did nothing but infuriate me further. Too bad there wasn’t commentary for them as well. I was dying for another fifteen minutes of self-serving masturbatory bullshit. Reality set it. This movie sucked.

It’s always sad to see a film collapse in on itself with one of our favorite genre stars attached to it. Clive Barker may have in some way produced this mess and lent his name to it, but rest assured there’s nothing Barker-esque about it. All that’s here is a giant missed opportunity which — pardon the really bad, yet fitting pun — you should avoid like the plague.

Special Features
Cast and crew commentary
Deleted scenes


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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