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End of the Line (2007)

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End of the Line review (click to see it bigger!)Reviewed by Rogueboy

Starring Ilona Elkin, Nicholas Wright, Robin Wilcock, Joan McBride

Directed by Maurice Devereaux


After recently watching Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (DVD review) I was very nostalgic for a good old time cat and mouse kind of slasher movie. The kind of movie where you know this diverse cast of characters are all just waiting lambs for the slaughter. The only questions are when, where and how much blood are they going to show when it happens?

As I sat down in the Harvard Square Theater Friday night to screen the Boston premiere of Maurice Devereauxs’ End of the Line as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival, I had no idea my craving was about to be very pleasantly satisfied and I would be whisked back to the late 80s. And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

End of the Line tells the story of Karen, who after a very long hard night working as a psychiatric nurse, boards the lonely Canadian subway. It’s the last train of the night and there are a few people aboard just making their way home, including various members of the Church of Hope, on their way home from a church gathering with the Reverend Hope, a preacher who is held in high regard is the city if not the world, as we see posters and magazines throughout the hospitals and subways.

After the trains emergency brake is pulled and the train stops between stations, all of the members of the Church begin to receive messages on their phones. Messages from the Reverend. The time has come. Armageddon is here. It is time for the flock to cleanse and save the world. And by “cleanse” he means unsheathing large daggers from their crosses and by “save” he means kill all of the non-believers before the arrival of the demons.

End of the Line review (click to see it bigger!)What ensues is all of the members of the flock go from smiling, choir singing, “help a brother out? ” kind of citizens to smiling, choir singing, hell bent killing machines. Our band of “non believers” made up of the psychiatric nurse, a lustful young couple, a J-Pop Asian woman, a Joe Everybody and our Muscle Bound “Leader”. They spend the rest of the film trying to make their way out of the subway tunnels while avoiding the blade-wielding horde of zealots.

To leave the summary at that doesn’t give this film the credit it deserves. But anymore would really spoil the fun of finding out the whats, whys, and hows of it all. There’s more to this film than just the “cat and mouse” chase that I was looking for; A lot more. Aside from the suspense of bloodthirsty psychos after you, there is the question of why they’re after you.

There’s always been something unnerving to me about individuals with unquestioning, unwavering religious belief, someone who would do anything “in the name of their god”. Jim Jones and Jonestown, and David Koresh in Waco instantly come to mind. And in the times of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, the subject matter is very appropriate. What End of the Line brings to the table is an on the surface run and gun type of slasher, but below the surface raises the question of faith; faith in others, faith in yourself and faith in your god. Throughout the film we see the members of the group face each of these challenges. Some succeed and some fail. And when they fail, they fail HARD.

End of the Line review (click to see it bigger!)End of the Line has balls. I’ll say it again. End of the Line has balls. Devereaux is not afraid to push the envelope in the spilling the red stuff. When I saw that the only real weapons that we were looking to use were these small daggers, I was a little worried that the blood factor would not be there. I’m very happy to say that I was WAY OFF. I didn’t take into account what you can find in subway tunnels; Axes, crowbars, and various other bladed weapons. Without going into spoiler territory, End of the Line gives us various degrees of stabbing, throat slashings, partial decapitations, axes to the head, and two scenes that very much caught me off guard, one including a child and one including an unborn baby. All of the running and slashing and killing leads to a very well done ending, though one that will definitely divide audiences. Some will love it and some will hate it. I for one absolutely loved it.

The atmosphere and set design helps out the film a great deal. Darkness and labyrinth like tunnels add to the confusion of an already tense scene. After speaking to the director, I was informed that he couldn’t afford to shoot in real subways and all of the set design was done digitally in post; a HUGE feat for an indie director.

For all of the merit that I give this movie, it’s not without its shortcomings. Some of the acting was very indie, meaning that the person could act but not in the capacity of holding a movie together. High spots were the Nurse, Ilona Elkin, who came into her own by the end of the film, as well as the head follower, Joan McBride, a middle aged woman who was chilling as the relentless leader of the disciples.

End of the Line review (click to see it bigger!)Low points for acting were Nicholas Wright, the “Joe Everyguy”, as he just was not convincing as the real guy; neither was John Vamvas as the whiny subway worker. With the right actor the scenes that he was in could have completely shaken you to your inner core but unfortunately, he comes across too whiney and almost unintentionally laughable.

Devereaux defiantly wears his influences on his sleeve as there were several shots and scene set ups that instantly brought to mind such films as Creep, Raw Meat, The Eye, The Shining, and Demons. Not a bad list on influences if you ask me.

There are a few pacing problems here and there, but nothing that seriously detracted from the film. Some VERY bad choice of dialogue used, I can only assume, to lighten up a scene, does detract quite a bit, however. No place, in any movie, whose title does not start with the words Harold and Kumar Go to… should the lines “I have to take a dump” be uttered. Seriously, never.

And just to give Devereaux his due, we screened the movie is a theater that didn’t have surround sound and he was very upset as he felt that the sound played a major factor for the feel of the film. It wasn’t something I even noticed or felt was missing was missing, but then I didn’t make it. The images, the themes, the unwavering violence and the whole feeling of unease was enough to make this one of the best movies I have seen in a festival in a long time, at least since Stuart Gordons Edmond.

End of The Line is the first bigger budget movie from Montreal native Devereaux, whose previous directorial works include $lasher$ and Lady of the Lake, both released direct to video under the Fangoria Banner. He stated that as of right now the film doesn’t have any distribution rights, which is a shame, but I’m sure that will change soon enough. End of the Line has the potential to become a classic for horror fans, all we need is a chance to see it. As the program notes stated, it’s a thinking man’s blood feast. And it is one that I can’t wait to dine on again.

4 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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