Directed by Eoin Macken
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment
Let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, aisle 6 has allergy medication, Band-Aids and aspirin. Moving on to aisle 7 – AHA! Anti-nausea pills… I’m going to pop these things like they were Tic Tacs, especially after the torturous activity that my stomach has gone through during and after watching The Inside, a film from director Eoin Macken, who apparently has a VERY favorable opinion towards motion sickness and the effects of dishing it out in large quantities to the unsuspecting viewer.
Added to the extensive totality that is the unrelenting, front seat point-of-view ocular assault called “found footage,” there is an appropriate sprinkling of just enough illogical action from the characters in this film, giving you a solid haymaker to your temple as you bend over attempting to cement yourself on solid ground, all the while wishing that the damn spinning would cease in your breadbasket.
The most troubling thing about this particular film, you ask? Here’s the kicker: drop the first-person shaky-cam garbage and scale back on the incessant screaming from the female cast members, and you’d probably have a halfway decent presentation. Hell, I’ll even contend with the moronic actions of the characters. Take my hand as I lead us all to the anatomization of a movie that defines the term “missed opportunity.”
The premise is as simple to read as the liner notes in your favorite Michael McDonald CD (come on, you know you dig the guy). A man wanders into a pawn shop with the hope of scoring some greenbacks for a wedding ring he’s trying to unload. The clerk offers him a paltry amount plus a video camera that was recently brought in off the street, and the man accepts. We then witness (through the viewfinder) the events that unfold when a group of friends are attacked at a birthday celebration and the aftermath.
Okay, problem #1: The five girls and their male counterpart come up with the ever-so-intelligent prospect of bypassing a restaurant or a nightclub or maybe even someone else’s home to let loose and revel in to celebrate one of their own’s name-day, instead opting to hang out in an abandoned apartment building. There’s only SO much that can be said for brainpower and the correct time frame in which to use it.
As the party moves along, tempers flare due to some over-imbibing, and it’s not long after when the bash is crashed by three transients (possible squatters), and our male event-organizer is beaten to death by one of the goons, leaving the women to fend for themselves. What happens next is a true test for those with weak stomachs and low tolerance for monotonous screaming. As the trio of tormentors commence their heinous behavior towards the birthday girl and her friends, the allowance of dizzying camera work and shrieking from the women is unrelenting – so much that I was begging for the scenes to speed along.
In the film’s second act a rather quick departure from the usual disturbing psychological thriller turns into a slow moving night-vision foray that deals with a supernatural force that begins to stalk all participants once the lights begin to dim in the apartment. One would hope that with a sudden turnaround in the storyline such as this one, the effort would be seamless and stable, but those hopes had gone swirling as soon as more of the shaky-cam and shouting marathon raged on – talk about disappointing.
What remains to be seen in the closing act is a deluge of nonsensical excitations that will make you question each and every turn – no one is ever willing to drop the damn camera regardless of peril, or maybe they should choose to NOT re-enter an area that proved hazardous to whoever just escaped it moments before.
As I said earlier, a missed opportunity is the most accurate description that I can muster in order to give this movie the caveat that it so rightly deserves. Aside from a few very brief jump scares and situational frights, it falls right in line with so many others that came before it… although the annoyance level was ramped up to unpardonable heights. If it’s true chills you’re after, I suggest walking the perimeter and completely bypassing The Inside altogether.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual
Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.
Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!
Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!
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The Housemaid Review – Love Makes the Ghost Grow Stronger
Written and directed by Derek Nguyen
Vietnamese horror films are something of a rarity due largely to pressure from the country’s law enforcement agencies that have warned filmmakers to steer clear of the genre in recent years. The country’s exposure to the industry is limited, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of filmmakers out there that are passionate and determined to get their art out into the world. IFC Midnight has stepped up to the plate to shepherd writer/director Derek Nguyen’s period ghost thriller The Housemaid in hopes of getting it in front of American horror fans.
Aside from a few moments that delve into soap opera territory, Nguyen’s film is full of well-crafted scares and some surprisingly memorable scenes that sneak up at just the right times. For history buffs there’s also a lot of material to sink your teeth into dealing with French Colonial rule and mistreatment of the Vietnamese during the 1950’s. Abuse that, if you’re not careful, could lead to a vengeful spirit seeking atonement.
Desperate and exhausted after walking for miles, an orphaned woman named Linh (Kate) seeks refuge and employment as a housemaid at a large rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina. Once hired, she learns of the dark history surrounding the property and how her mere presence has awakened an accursed spirit that wanders the surrounding woods and dark corners of the estate. Injured in battle, French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud) returns to preside over the manor and, unexpectedly, begins a dangerous love affair with Linh that stirs up an even darker evil.
Told in flashbacks, the abuse of workers reveals a long history of mistreatment that enshrouds the surrounding land in darkness and despair, providing ripe ground for a sinister spirit that continues to grow stronger. Once it’s revealed that the ghost has a long history with Laurent before her death, the reasons she begins to kill become more and more obvious as the death toll piles up. Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle among Laurent, Linh, and the specter of Laurent’s dead wife.
Powered by desire to avenge tortured workers of the past and the anger fueled by seeing her husband in the embrace of a peasant girl, the apparition is frightening and eerily beautiful as she stalks her victims. One scene in particular showing her wielding an axe is the most indelible image to take away from the film, and other moments like it are what make The Housemaid a standout. The twisted sense of romance found in a suffering spirit scorned in death is the heart of the story even if the romance between the two living lovers winds up having more screen time.
The melodrama and underwhelming love scenes between Linh and Laurent are the least effective part of The Housemaid, revealing some of Nguyen’s limitations in providing dialogue and character moments that make us connect with these two characters as much as we do when the ghost is lurking around the frame. What does help to save the story is a well kept secret revealing a connection with the housemaid and the apparition.
Honestly, if this was an American genre film, the limitations seen in The Housemaid might cause more criticism, but seeing an emerging artist and his team out of Vietnam turn out a solid product like this leads me to highlight the good and champion the effort in hopes of encouraging more filmmakers to carry the flag. Ironically, the film is set for a U.S. remake in the near future.
The Housemaid hits select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms TODAY, February 16th.
Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle.
Scorched Earth Review – Gina Carano Making Motherf**kers Pay In The Apocalypse
Starring Gina Carano, John Hannah, Ryan Robbins
Written by Bobby Mort and Kevin Leeson
Directed by Peter Howitt
Let me preface this review by stating right off the bat that I’m a huge Gina Carano fan, and will pretty much accept her in any role that she’s put in (are you going to tell her no), regardless of the structure and plausibility behind it, and while that might make me a tad-bit biased in my opinions, just accept it as that and nothing more. Now that I’ve professed my cinematic devotion to the woman, let’s dive headlong into her latest film, Scorched Earth.
Directed by Peter Howitt, the backdrop is an apocalyptic world brought on by the imminent disaster known as global warming, and the air has become toxic to intake, generally leaving inhabitants yacking up blood and other viscous liquids after a prolonged exposure, unless you’re one of the privileged that possesses a filter lined with powdered silver. Filters of water and the precious metal are in high demand, and only true offenders in this world still drive automobiles, effectively speeding up the destruction of what’s left of the planet. Carano plays Atticus Gage, a seriously stoic and tough-as-nails bounty hunter who is responsible for taking these “criminals” down, and her travels lead her to a compound jam-packed with bounties that will have her collecting riches until the end of time…but aren’t we at the end of time already? Anyway, Gage’s main opponent here is a man by the name of Thomas Jackson (Robbins) – acting as the leader of sorts to these futuristic baddies, the situation of Gage just stepping in and taking him out becomes a bit complicated when…oh, I’m not going to pork this one up for you all – you’ve got to invest the time into it just as I did, and trust me when I tell you that the film is pretty entertaining to peep.
While Carano’s acting still needs some refining, let there be no ever-loving mistake that this woman knows how to beat the shit out of people, and for all intents and purposes this will be the thing that carries her through many a picture. There are much larger roles in the future for Gina, and she’ll more than likely take over as a very big player in the industry – hey, I’m a gambling man, and I’ve done pretty well with my powers of prognostication. With that being said, the thing that does hold this picture back is the plot itself- it’s a bit stale and not overly showy, and when I look for a villain to oppose the hero, I’m wanting someone with at least a shred of a magnetic iota, and I just couldn’t latch onto anything with Robbins’ performance – his character desperately needed an injection of “bad-assness” and it hurt in that particular instance.
In the end of it all, I’d recommend Scorched Earth to fans of directionless, slam-bang wasteland pics with a touch of unrestrained violence…plus, Gina Carano is in it, so you can’t go wrong. If you’re not a fan of any of the above, feel free to skate on along to another piece of barren territory.
Looking to get your butt kicked in the apocalypse with extreme prejudice? Drive on up, and allow me to introduce you to someone who’ll be more than happy to oblige.
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