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I Can See You (2008)

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I Can See You reviewReviewed by Johnny Butane

Starring Ben Dickinson, Duncan Skiles, Christopher D. Ford, Olivia Villanti, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Graham Reznick


In his directorial debut, sound designer Graham Reznick takes a simple tale of three ad-men trying to get back to nature in order to come up with a new campaign for a cleaning product and twists it into a warped, psychedelic nightmare.

Our main focus is on Richards (Dickinson), an artist who seems to be having some sort of emotional turmoil relating to a portrait he’s attempting to paint of his father. He’s got everything right except the face, which is just a flesh-toned oval in the middle of the man’s head. This imagery will come back to haunt him frequently throughout the film, though its significance, like much of the film’s plot, is never made clear.

Richards’ day job is for a company on the brink of going out of business. They need to come up with a new ad campaign to sell their cleaning product, and in a fit of inspiration, Richards suggest to copywriter Kimble (Ford) and company man Doug (Skiles) that they head out to the woods to try and really get to the heart of the product. Clarity, nature, vision, that sort of thing.

The trio, along with Kimble’s gorgeous but mostly mute girlfriend Sonia (Villanti), head out and quickly settle in for some old school camping. Some friends join them for a night of drinking, and Richards is finally able to muster up the courage to talk to a girl he’s had his eye on for a while, a girl named Summer. Liquid courage plays a large role in this, and before you know it, the two are doing the horizontal bop in the middle of the woods.

I Can See You reviewThe next day, liquor being out of the picture, is when things get complicated. Seems Richards isn’t so good with conversation minus the alcohol, but Doug is able to get along perfectly fine. While Richards floats in the lake, sans glasses (his blurry, distorted POV makes this scene and other scenes unsettling), Doug and Summer walk off together … and are never seen again. At least, not together.

This is when the really strange and psychedelic stuff ramps up to full gear. It’s akin to an acid trip, actually. Take a hit right as the movie starts up, and chances are as soon as the acid kicks in, the movie starts twisting at the same time. Now that I really think about it, I think I’m going to try that…

The setting, some unspoken tension between Kimble and Sonia, the music and a very bizarre, out of nowhere rock and roll song (sung by director Reznick, performed by Skiles) along with the frequent appearance by former product spokesman Mickey Hauser (Fessenden), both in Richards’ head and later in the actual forest itself, work together to make I Can See You one of the most indefinable films I think I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly nowhere close to a straight-up horror film, but if one had to squeeze it into a specific category, that would be about the most fitting.

I Can See You reviewMy main issues were the incredibly slow (read: deliberate) pacing for the first half of the film and the simple fact that the last 20 or so minutes really make no sense at all. I’m sure there are subtleties that would be caught on a second viewing (perhaps that acid would help in this respect), but one would really have to make sure they were focused on the subtext of nearly every scene. Though I usually don’t mind movies that utilize what could best be called “dream logic” (or “nightmare logic” in this case), it is something one really has to be in the mood for.

The cinematography and sound design give every indication that Reznick knew exactly what he was doing and what he was trying to say with I Can See You; nothing here is an accident. For that reason alone Reznick’s one to keep an eye on for future efforts; I just hope he keeps the psychedelia to a minimum next time and focuses more on a linear story.

I foresee I Can See You being a movie that splits opinions when it’s finally out to the masses; it really is something you have to be in the mood for both mentally and emotionally. Hopefully knowing what to expect will help form a better, more well rounded opinion of it down the line.

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3 out of 5

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

Directed by James S. Brown

We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

8 out of 10.

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Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

Directed by Warren Speed


The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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User Rating 2.94 (17 votes)
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The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

Directed by Martin Gooch


Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

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Summary

Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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