Written and directed by David Michael Quiroz, Jr.
As the years have progressed and I have become more and more disappointed with the overall quality of fare being offered at the Hollywood horror buffet, I have begun to state rather loudly that we must look to the underground, and by this I mean the indie scene, for our pleasures. (Now there’s more than one indie scene – the “starring a big name actor at a fraction of his/her pay in a quirky offbeat roll” indie film that I almost don’t consider indie anymore and the real indie scene with movies made from money scratched out of the dirt, which is where some of the best horror movies are coming from.)
I’m not always right about looking to the independent horror movie scene…they have lower budgets and can’t afford the best effects or talents, so many times the product isn’t so great. But usually the people involved put heart, soul, blood, love, and who knows what other body fluids into the making of these films. And it shows. And those are the good times, when you see that despite the limitations of their budget and circumstances, they turn out a damn fine product.
And a damn fine product is exactly what The Lonely Ones is. It starts off cliché … so cliché that I literally groaned out loud … in 1988 with a group of sorority girls (sorostitutes – a super fantabulous word this movie introduced me to) hanging out in a cabin and drinking. They decide to exchange some ghost stories, and one of the girls tells them about The Lonely Ones – a race of creatures who allegedly used to lure people away from civilization and devour them. Of course, several minutes later the Phi Beta Ki sisters are attacked, disappear, and are never seen or are heard from again.
Fast forward to present day and a group of nine friends who are off for a weekend of partying and general debauchery in the woods. Sounds like your typical Halloween/Friday the 13th 80’s slasher flick, right? Well, the setup is that way, and there is a good bit of that. For instance, Cid is a big jerky jock who cheated on his girlfriend Rinoa and wants to use this weekend to make it up to her and win her back. And there are various other stereotypes. But they’re not just stereotypes. Quiroz develops even the most throwaway characters somewhat and spends a great deal of time with the ones who are going to stick around.
In fact, those of you who are used to zipping right into the action will probably balk at the slow burn of the film, and in Hollywood they probably would have cut 20 minutes of the film’s first 36. I’m not saying it couldn’t have used a little trim here and there, but no serious pruning was required. I enjoyed the character development and the building tension, the likes of which you wouldn’t find in most slasher flicks. The acting ranges from tolerable to downright good; surprisingly, on the whole the guys put on a better performance than the girls.
Once things get down to nasty business, it happens fantastically, like a roller coaster … this slow, half-hour build like that initial climb when your car click, click, clicks up the track and then drops into the unknown. And from that moment on, Quiroz really jettisons the clichés (for the most part) and throws you some curve balls. There were quite a few things I didn’t expect to happen at all. But I won’t go into it any more than that because you should buy it and see for yourself. And join the film’s MySpace page while you’re at it!
The downside is this: The Lonely Ones was done on a low budget. There are a lot of things this had little to no affect on. The writing was pretty tight with no really laughable dialogue – except where intended of course. The acting was decent across the board with several actors delivering better than average performances. Ron Berg, who plays Luke, one of The Lonely Ones, was really great. I can’t decide what I liked about him more: his acting or the fact that he reminded me of an old high school boyfriend. And Rinoa (Heather Rae) … she’s my girl. Man, I fucking love her. Even the effects are not that bad. But the sound and lighting kind of suck, which is really unfortunate. There were times when I wasn’t entirely sure what was being said though I think I got the gist. And in nearly every scene that takes place outside, it’s practically impossible to tell what’s going on. Make sure you watch it with all the lights off; that’s your best bet.
Oh, and one more thing I promised I would mention. I watched this film with my fiancé, who is … well, he insists I refer to him as a “gaming enthusiast,” and for those of you out there who also fall into this category, Quiroz is one of your own. Which I probably don’t even need to tell you because if you’re as much of one as he is, you’ve already picked up on the fact throughout the review, just as my fiancé did within minutes of the movie starting; but since I’m not, I didn’t. For those of you not in the know, go ask a gamer.
So, the long and short of it is this: The synopsis sounds cliché as hell, I’ve seen bigger budgets on birthday videos, and the sound and lighting are not the greatest. But it works. Mostly because of the story. It really pulls you in. And if you’re not rooting for at least one of the characters by the end, and I mean really rooting (I was sitting up and literally bouncing in my seat), you might possibly be made of stone. To use a comparison that will probably have some people cringing at my terminology – and an equal or greater number of people intrigued at the prospect – Quiroz’s writing is sort of … Whedon-esque. Anyone who knows me knows that’s a huge compliment. And I can’t really explain why it reminds me of Whedon aside from the title, which brings to mind the episode about the vampire wannabes (which the creatures in the films are not). You’ll just have to watch it and see what I mean.
The Lonely Ones is not perfect, but its flaws are by far overshadowed by its strengths. I’m seriously looking forward to Quiroz’s next project.
4 1/2 out of 5
7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here
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.
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.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE
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!
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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic
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.
See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.
- Josh Gastronomicon Myers Sweet!
- Tarman_85 I just read that Bruce isn't interested in continuing on with the character. https://twitter.com/GroovyBruce/status/988510246829109249?s=17
- Steven Millan The most important question to ask Dario Argento during his HorrorCon UK appearance is what is the status of THE SANDMAN(his crowdfunded project),which once seemed ready to film until Dario had a...
- FortesqueX I bet there'll be a bunch of hillbillies.
- FlixtheCat You're very kind.
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