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FPS – First Person Shooter (2014)

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FPS - First Person Shooter (2014)Starring Stephan Weyte, Sebastian Kettner, Atlanta Luetzelschwab, Achim Lützelschwab

Directed by Andreas Tom


FPS – First Person Shooter is exactly the kind of movie you wanted to make when you were 13. Since titles like Doom and Quake graced our gore-hungry and impressionable minds in the early 90s, a long history of rocket frags and no-scope headshots have fueled the dreams of our nation’s aspiring creative types. Making a totally rad movie in first person with sick shotgun blasts and chainsaw decapitations is a dream shared by every adolescent boy, but it is rarely realized.

The most popular example of this technique is from 2005’s Doom, with the short FPS segment towards the end being the only reason anyone remembers the film. Despite being totally badass, it looked pretty goofy. Aside from a few small projects here and there (last years Hotel Inferno comes to mind as a recent attempt), this whole “bobbing gun on screen” first person shooter technique seems to have been promptly dropped by basically everyone.

I might sound like I’m ignoring the deluge of found-footage horror that has so thoroughly run itself into a Hellraiser: Revelations sized ditch, but found-footage really isn’t the same thing as a first person shooter movie. Found footage movies use the narrative trick of expanding the role of cameraman into simultaneous narrator, protagonist, and storytelling medium in an attempt to create a sense of realism. This enhanced realism helps put you in the role of the protagonist, creating the illusion that you are in the middle of these spooky happenings. The camera plays an integral part, creating a realistic explanation as to how we can see things first hand. The FPS genre ideally shouldn’t concern itself with realism. By abandoning the camera as a realistic explanation, the film is free to abandon much of the pretenses of helplessness and dull attempts at shaky breath tension that have become staples of found-footage. FPS movies have the opportunity to break this mold of realism, leading the viewer to a land of power fantasy gore, just like the games that inspired them.

In this regard, Tom Andreas’s FPS – First Person Shooter performs admirably. A clear labor of love, the film is a laundry list of recreated shooter tropes. Beginning with an old DOS command prompt “launching” the movie, the first few minutes are spot-on nostalgically pleasing. I laughed out loud and grinned like an idiot when the “Player” entered the options menu and turned the blood color to red. The game “starts” with a poorly rendered “cutscene”, seemingly drawn in a 2000 copy of Game Maker Studio, that explains that a virus has begun to spread that turns people into zombies. An animated version of the hero mentions that his wife is missing, and after donning his badass leather battle gear, he goes off to see if he’s a bad enough dude to save her. The beauty of the segment will be lost on anyone unfamiliar with old school FPSs. This movie was clearly made by fans, for fans.

After this, the movie begins in earnest, and my mood declines. The movie isn’t shot terribly, and the monsters look okay, but the movie suffers from a severe lack of action. The segment from 2005’s Doom was balls to the wall headshots from start to finish, and that level of intensity was easily the best part. FPS, on the other hand, feels more like a Newgrounds flash adventure game. The protagonist slowly walks through the hallways of two floors of an abandoned hospital, checking various doors and cabinets for keys, weapons, antidotes, and other shootery stuff. The Player’s hands are always visible with some kind of weapon, and occasionally a health and ammo bar pop up for that extra little bit of nostalgic fun. The greenscreen effect of the hands layered over the shots is obvious, but it works well enough that it becomes part of the fun. Blood sometimes splatters on the screen, and the screen flashes red when the Player takes damage.

There are too many referential tidbits to list in entirety here, so let me just cover the rest blanketly by saying that all the efforts put into making the movie resemble an old shooter are enjoyable. If you are a huge fan of old shooters, it is entirely possible to derive enjoyment from start to finish out of just all the one liners and tropes. However, I don’t think anyone’s favorite part of Duke Nukem was slowly walking through mostly empty hallways and checking every door, which is far too much of what makes up FPS. Aside from a brief period where the hero is deprived of all his weapons save for an Aliens style motion tracker, the plodding pace of the movie seriously hampers an otherwise novel attempt at recreating that old shooter feel. I cannot stress enough how disappointed I was to see the first 30 minutes of this movie crawl by with only 3 dead zombies. Every time it seems like things are about to ramp up, they slow down again.

This is the tale of the tape for the film: every time something gets interesting, it’s quickly squandered. At one point in the movie, the Player picks up a barbed wire flail made out of a skull and spinal cord. This is without a doubt the most badass weapon in history, and I was thoroughly stoked on the idea of the Player killing dudes with the body of another dude. However, after putting the human powered pulverizer into his inventory, its never seen again. You can’t show me a skull mace and not beat someone’s head in with it. That’s just wrong.

Similarly, towards the movie’s end theres a segment with a mini-gun that goes “low-rez”. The scene changes to footage of a 2.5D shooter made out of assets from the old Windows “maze” screensaver and my five year old niece’s MS Paint scribblings. Even though it’s probably the most appropriate time for them to be here, the health and ammo bar disappear and instead we watch dozens of the exact same zombie stumble through three frames of animation before exploding out of shame. The segment only lasts an excruciating two minutes, but is just so horrible that there should be some kind of warning label on the box about it.

I will reiterate that I do think this movie holds some kind of entertainment value for those looking for a retro shooter nostalgia trip. The voice acting by Stephan Weyte is campy gold ripped straight out of the stuff Duke Nukem was made from, and honestly brings the entire production up another star. I just cannot stress enough that 88 minutes of a guy walking through the same two hallways is not what shooter fans remember with glee. A chainsaw should be used to mow through eager processions of flesh hungry ghouls, not picked up and used once for 20 seconds. On the scale of nostalgia inspired media, it’s certainly not the worst, but suffers from being either unable to attain that old school mayhem factor or completely missing the point of what made the classics enjoyable. An admirable attempt, but overall disappointing.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
3.5

Summary

Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto


I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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