The Hunger Games fav Stanley Tucci, pictured, has contracted for the villain role in Screen Gems’ Patient Zero, starring opposite Natalie Dormer and Matt Smith, writes Deadline.
Stefan Ruzowitzky is directing the Mike Le-scripted action thriller, and Vincent Newman is producing.
In Patient Zero, “an unprecedented global pandemic of a super strain of rabies has resulted in the evolution of a new species driven by violence. An inexplicably immune human survivor with the ability to communicate with this new species must spearhead a hunt for Patient Zero in order to find a cure to save his infected wife and humanity.”
Tucci plays a deliciously evil role: a professor who becomes infected, and highly violent, they explain. He becomes determined to crash the lab that’s working on a cure and thwart the search for Patient Zero.
Ever since Claire Peterson found out that her husband, Garrett, has been fooling around with his secretary, she’s been at a standstill. Claire doesn’t want her son Kevin to grow up without a father in his life, but the trust has been broken. How can she be sure that her husband won’t have another indiscretion? All it takes is one more moment of weakness to bring her whole life tumbling down, and right now, she’s too fragile to leave her broken pieces in his flippant hands. Caught between wanting to keep her family together and trying to hold on to her dignity, Claire kicks Garrett out of the house, and begins raising Kevin on her own. Hesitant to sign divorce papers, Claire keeps her distance, but but remains open to the possibility of one day becoming a real family again. In the meantime, Claire focuses on preparing for another year of teaching literature at the local high school, taking care of Kevin, and the cute neighbor boy that just moved in next door. Noah Sandborn is his name, and despite the fact that he’s developed a friendship with her teenage son, Claire can’t help but notice his glistening, grease-covered biceps as he works on the engine of a car, or that he’s well read for someone his age, or that he spends his free time assisting his sick uncle.
Noah had an accident a few years ago that claimed both of his parents’ lives in a vicious car wreck. While dealing with his grief, Noah lost a few years in the scuffle, and as a result, was held back a few grades. Now, at age twenty, he enrolls back in high school, and finds his way into Claire’s class. The connection between them is clear and instantaneous, but Claire knows that she shouldn’t get involved with someone who’s so young, especially because he’s friends with her son, and she’s vulnerable and in the midst of dealing with her spouse’s infidelities, but most of all, because he’s a student. Still, she finds herself drawn to the boy, and before long, they engage in their own forbidden act. Claire almost immediately regrets her actions, but despite her pleading and reasoning, Noah refuses to listen. He claims that they’re meant to be, and although at first he comes on like a naive child lost to puppy love and prisoner to the power of being with a more experienced partner, soon, his charming, child-like ways turn lethal. Noah begins threatening Claire, stalking her, and acting oddly possessive. As things worsen, Claire must find the balance between keeping her secret quiet, and protecting her family from the crazed, angel-faced psychopath living just across the lawn.
The biggest issue with The Boy Next Door is its failure to comment on the large age gap between Noah and Claire. Like many horror films that have come before it, this film highlights Noah’s jealous, deranged behavior, forcing it to blend in with other cliche beau-turned-bonkers movies. Even if Noah is twenty years old, and legally old enough to sleep with someone who could be his mother, he is still a student of hers, and that aspect is only briefly touched on. The fact is, if it were a young female student and an older male teacher, it would be seen as disgusting and illegal, period. There would be no question about it. However, because it’s a young man and an older woman, it somehow allows for this perverse way of thinking to exist, where their involvement is exploited to argue that this scenario is okay because it’s a fantasy being fulfilled, not a guardian taking advantage of her pupil. In the end, whether the movie wanted to argue that relationships between young people and older people is a positive or negative affair, the important thing is to choose a side! Defending either side and supporting your argument with evidence would have made it stand out from all of the other sociopathic sweetheart thriller gems out there.
Despite the fact that the student-teacher situation is pretty uncomfortable, the truth is, it is nice to have the boy be the desperate, lunatic lover for once, just because it is so rare. Films like Fatal Attraction, Misery, and Swimfan are much more commonplace in a world that detects any giant gesture of affection from females as frightening or plain mental. More often than not, it’s the woman that’s driven totally insane with insecurity when her partner gives her the slightest bit of attention. Also, The Boy Next Door is surprisingly fun, due to cheesy, yet well-timed one-liners from Ryan Guzman. Kristin Chenoweth is the real star of the film, though, swooping in to save horribly cliche moments from being dull and dreary by throwing in smart, sassy comedy and veteran acting chops. Lopez may play the classic novels aficionado, but it is Chenoweth that’s the real teacher in this film, schooling everyone around her with ease. Sadly, Lopez and Guzman can’t quite perform to the bar that to their co-star has set, and fail to provide any real convincing chemistry. Lopez comes across more like she’s slightly bothered than fearing for her life, and it never really feels like she’s in danger.
Lopez’s character Claire can’t seem to learn from any of her mistakes, or how to grab a weapon, no matter how many times Noah threatens her, or even sexually harasses her. Even after he hacks into her email, prints out pictures of their love making, and attempts to sexually assault her in a confined bathroom, she still meets him later, unarmed and doe-eyed, begging like a pitiful victim for him to stop, and not really taking any advances to make sure he does. Perhaps her character would come off as more sympathetic if there were any reason at all to root for her, but it would be the equivalent of cheering on a reality contestant through a political debate — useless and frustrating. Unfortunately, unless you’re going for a few chuckles over silly dialogue and poor storytelling, this movie isn’t one that demands to be seen in the theaters.
From Chris Sparling (writer of the underrated ATM) comes The Atticus Institute, a demonic possession movie set in the mid-1970s. It’s presented in documentary form with lots of talking head interviews and archival footage. Anyone rolling their eyes thinking “found footage,” don’t sweat it. This film’s very light on the POV, shake cam junk. Most of the footage is stationary or security camera-style. Technically, The Atticus Institute is a very well made film. It genuinely feels like a doc you’d catch on the History Channel one night.
Despite its craftsmanship and an interesting premise, the film is ultimately a bore. The period it’s set in is during a time when there was a popular interest in things like ESP and psychokinesis. At the titular institute in Pennsylvania, Dr. Henry West (William Mapother) and his team of researchers perform various tests on subjects who purportedly have psychic abilities. Many of his subjects turn out to be frauds (magnets in the watch!) until along comes Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt).
Judith is the real deal. She displays some abilities the staff describe as “godlike” that violate the laws of physics. Her talent runs the gamut of kinesis: from telekinesis to pyrokinesis. As her powers get progressively more gnarly, Dr. West and his crew are “too excited to be scared.” They call in people from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency for help, but all the government is interested in is harnessing Judith’s powers for military purposes (no shit, what did you think they would do?).
The Atticus Institute cuts between interviews with staff members, friends, family members, etc. and footage of tests being performed on Judith. As the experiments become progressively more invasive, her behavior becomes increasingly aggressive and violent. The concept of demonic possession doesn’t hit the staff until late into the film though. Even when Judith starts speaking in what seems like gibberish and growling in a deep bellow resembling a gorilla, possession doesn’t cross their mind. It’s set in 1976, a few solid years after The Exorcist came out. How did they not immediately think she’s possessed? Maybe they don’t get out to the movies much.
There’s nothing in the film we haven’t seen before and none of the scary moments are effective. There are some neat little subtle tricks when Judith uses her powers early on (a card bends, a chair moves), but nothing particularly remarkable happens during the tests. It is very well put together and does a fine job mimicking an actual documentary, but overall there’s nothing entertaining or engaging about it. No tension is ever built up and many of the scenes that try to be scary are first introduced by a talking head saying something like, “That one night in the lab…it was crazy.” Then we see what happens and it’s all very anticlimactic. It’s all very tedious. Which the whole movie is, wasting an interesting concept for the same cheap tricks and plot twists we’ve seen before.
The Atticus Institute is now available On Demand and DVD/Blu-ray.
Hailing out of Ireland, here’s the first clip from the film, starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, and Michael Smiley.
It’s got a sting of The Thing inspiration, and is definitely not for the dog lovers out there.
“When a London-based conservationist is sent to Ireland to survey an area of ancient forest believed by the superstitious locals to be hallowed ground, he unwittingly disturbs a horde of terrifying beings and must fight to protect his family.”
Hardy previously cited classic horrors like The Evil Dead, Alien and The Thing as boyhood inspirations.
Horror punk artist Nim Vind has released a music video for the track “E.S.P.”, which comes from last year’s album Saturday Night Seance Songs. The video mixes performance footage with clips from classic black and white horror movies.
You can snag Saturday Night Seance Songs via iTunes.
I’m not sure how they could possibly know this already, but allegedly a character from the forthcoming “The Walking Dead” spinoff will appear in a Season 6 arc of the hit AMC series.
How is this possible when the spinoff series is a prequel, also set across the country in Los Angeles? Well, even though the site claims it takes place at the same time, I believe there’s a misunderstanding and that this crossover character could be an older and wiser version of him/herself, and have traveled down a long road. In fact, it leaves a question to be answered: what happened that this so-called survivor ended up in Atlanta? It’s a cool conceit, albeit I don’t want this new show to be anything like “TWD”.
The new series is said to revolve around a divorced teacher (Cliff Curtis) and a guidance counselor (Kim Dickens), who are working together and are in a relationship. The counselor has two children from a previous marriage, played by Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam Carey.
The Playlist nabbed the first festival one-sheet for Bruce McDonald’s (Hard Core Logo, Pontypool) Halloween-themed Hellions, which will World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It features an angel with a loaded gun. What’s she aiming at?
Robert Patrick will star as “Corman”, a tough-as-nails cop who comes to the aid of a teenager (newcomer Chloe Rose) plagued by three malevolent trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Rossif Sutherland (Reign), Luke Bilyk (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”), and Rachel Wilson (Republic of Doyle) also star.
“Strange trick-or-treaters plague conflicted teenager Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) at her isolated home on Halloween. Under siege by forces she can’t understand, Dora must defend both body and soul from relentless Hellions, dead-set on possessing something Dora will not give them. Set in a visually haunting landscape, Hellions redefines the boundaries of horror with its potent brew of Halloween iconography, teenage angst and desperate survival.“
Magnet Releasing shared a teaser poster for XX, a new horror anthology featuring shorts from Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), Mary Harron (American Psycho, pictured), Jennifer Lynch (Hiss, Surveillance), and Jovanka Vuckovic.
No other details have been released.
The Resident Evil HD Remaster should arrive on your platform of choice later today, if it hasn’t already. I’ve seen variations of the same discussion pop up again and again since Capcom announced their plans to update the GameCube remake, and they tend to go something like, “I’ll play it, but Capcom should have revisited so and so Resident Evil first.”
I adored this remaster, but I get it. Until Capcom stops treating Resident Evil 2 like it’s the red-headed step-child of the bunch, I’m even inclined to agree.
How about you? Which game would you like to see them return to next?
Jason Voorhees won’t be returning from his decades long vacation from video games for another nine months and he’s already claimed his first victim. Last week, the Kickstarter page for the indie slasher game Last Year was taken down and replaced with a claim of a copyright violation submitted by the rights holders of the Friday the 13th film franchise.
For the unfamiliar, Last Year is an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game that raised a massive amount of money — over $114,000 — on the popular crowdfunding website last year. In it, a team of player-controlled teens is hunted by a masked murderer who is controlled by another player.
The problem with that description is it could also be used to describe the recently announced Friday the 13th game.
There’s plenty room for two asymmetrical horror games about masked psychos hunting down teens, but one look at the concept art for Last Year and it’s immediately clear they’re using F13 as a source of inspiration. The bad guy that’s featured in the art (see above) that was used to raise all that money on Kickstarter could easily be mistaken for Jason.
Crystal Lake Entertainment is fully within their right to protect their franchise, just as the rights holders of the Halloween movie franchise were within theirs when they had Pig Farmer Productions rename their Halloween game to Babysitter Bloodbath.
In this case, there’s a not-insignificant amount of money involved, so I’d be surprised if it’s resolved through a simple name change. I’ve reached out to the developer of Last Year to see if they can shed some light on the situation. Stay tuned.
As we continue to wait patiently for Silent Hills to come and either rescue Konami’s ailing survival horror franchise from a slow death or deliver the killing blow, the modding community has been busy working on a first-person Half-Life 2 mod that’s more Silent Hill than Silent Hill has been for quite some time. I’ve spent some time with it already, and it looks fantastic. I can’t speak for the gameplay yet, but I can confirm that it nails the atmosphere down perfectly.
Alchemilla is available now on ModDB. If you’re looking to roam those foggy streets yourself, don’t forget to grab the Source SDK 2013 from the Steam Tools library first.
I pride myself on trying to be honest with you folks. That said, I had spent far too much time trying to figure out just what to say in this introduction for Chris Ethridge’s Attack of the Morningside Monster. I had thought of talking about how Buffy fans would be pleased to see Nicholas Brendon aka Xander in this film, alongside Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis. I’d also thought of talking about how small town whodunits that focus on everyone knowing everyone, and how practically anyone could be the killer can be kind of fun when done right. Or, I could do what I just did and ramble on and come up with an introduction by accident. Enjoy.
In the small town of Morningside, New Jersey, a series of brutal murders of the town’s undesirables has local law enforcement stumped. Bodies are found eviscerated in a ritualistic fashion, with a strange symbol tagged nearby. Compounding things are the close relationships amongst the residents of the town, making the killer even more difficult to find. Things start hitting close to home when Morningside sheriff Tom Haulk (Robert Pralgo) discovers shady dealings by a close friend (Nicholas Brendon), and after one of his friends has a close call with the killer, Tom’s investigation takes a disturbing turn.
For starters, I give writer Jayson Palmer credit for going the route of focusing on the relationships that exist in a small town, while mixing in the self-reflection of days gone by. I know that it sounds like of pretentious for a slasher, but it does attempt to separate the film from the rest of the low-budget, by-the-numbers crowd. It adds more depth to things when you have characters delving into that “grey area” (as in the case of Nicholas Brendon’s character) in an attempt to get by. This particular focus on the story does threaten to bog down the pacing of the film, and does give it an uneven feel.
The acting is pretty good for a film like this. Robert Pralgo is engaging and solid as the lead, while Tiffany Shepis provides a bit of comic relief but also has a tough attitude that keeps up with Pralgo. It’s a shame that she wasn’t used as much as she could’ve been, however. Nicholas Brendon also does well, mixing in a variety of emotions, though he does feel a bit like one of those “special appearance” castings that indie directors will pull to give their film a bit more recognition. Mike Stanley plays the town’s drug dealer Clyde precariously close to being over-the-top (especially with the constant scowl), but thankfully doesn’t go overboard.
The film’s indie roots unfortunately really reveal themselves when it comes to the killer. While it’s one thing to be decked out in a black cape and hood, it’s another to be wearing what from far away looks like a sequined luchador mask with bad teeth. The costume isn’t particularly frightening, even if the whole thing was intended to have a tribal motif. Also, while the gore is kind of expected to be unspectacular given the budget, it’s still disappointing when the effects aren’t particularly convincing. Also, with the killer’s focus on removing the “undesirables” of the town, it’s hard to feel sympathy for many of them, particularly when the script doesn’t develop them beyond the single note.
Despite it’s best intentions, Attack Of The Morningside Monster unfortunately doesn’t do enough to separate itself from the rest of the low-budget slashers that show up on direct-to-video. There are some postitives, such as the attempt at differentiating the story from other low budget slashers and the mostly excellent cast, the awkward focus on character relationships and single-sided characters for victims drags it back down. It’s a fire-and-forget type of film, but it tries to do more. Ethridge and company do appear to have the potential for good things in the future, and they may well do better in future productions.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks pretty good for your low-budget serial killer flick. Detail is adequate, with solid colour reproduction and minimum compression artifacts. Darker scenes obviously tend to bring out more noise than the more lit scenes, with details and black levels taking a bit of a hit, but that’s to be expected on a film like this.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is consistent with the quality of the video, as is the alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Dialogue is clear and balanced well with the rest of the soundtrack, with no distortion. There are instances of fluctuating volume, but it’s not horrible. I will say that whoever did the subtitles for this disc needs a proofreader, as we get a few typos in here.
Aside from the teaser trailer and theatrical trailer for the film, we get an Audio Commentary with Director Chris Ethridge, Writer Jayson Palmer and Producer Michael Harper. The trio discuss details on the origins of the project, as well as the actual production such as casting, locations and other tidbits of trivia. Overall, it does it’s job of giving a nice chunk of information. There are times where the commentary devolves into describing what’s on the screen, but it’s not too bad.
I’m late to the party with The CW’s Arrow. In fact I only (shamefully) caught up last night. And while there was a significant lack of boxing glove arrows over the course of three seasons, I’m totally in. This is the best superhero TV show on the air right now. The characters are extremely well developed and there is a significant sense of danger week to week.
So I’m stunned to see Ollie actually get his ass handed to him by Ras Al Ghul in the midseason finale “The Climb.” I’m certain The Emerald Archer won’t be gone for too long, but the possibilities of his return are nearly endless. But, given the way he died I expect we’ll see a lazarus pit in the near future. Or something along those lines called by a different name.
Those of you following Arrow, would you like to see weekly reviews? And what about The Flash? I couldn’t get over the shockley dialogue but I hear Barry Allen is giving Green Arrow a run (heh) for his money.
Here’s a preview for this week’s Arrow. If there’s enough interest I’ll start reviewing the show from week to week. What do you guys say?
I’d like to ask a favor of you. H1Z1 released last week on Steam Early Access, making it the latest of a growing number of attempts to cash in on the gargantuan success seen by “survival sims” like DayZ and Rust. I haven’t played the game, so take what I’m about to say about the genre it belongs to — you know, the one that millions of gamers flock to every year — because I just don’t get it.
More specifically, I don’t get the appeal, and I’m hoping you can help me remedy that.
I’ve dabbled in this genre a few times now, mostly with Rust. The interactions I’ve had with other players tells me roughly 4 out of 5 DayZ players are horrible human beings online, while essentially everyone in Rust is the worst. Granted, that’s based on my experience, but I have it on good authority that I’m not the only one who’s had this problem.
I get the appeal of survival sims, it’s why I’ve spent about 30 hours in Rust before I couldn’t continue to put up with the bandit mentality problem that plagues this genre. It’s reached a point where your chances of survival are basically nonexistent without a platoon of friends covering you, and even that won’t help when — not if, when — you run into one of the myriad hackers who fly around killing players and ruining unprotected bases.
The hacker problem isn’t news, and neither is people being dicks to each other. Abusing the anonymity that comes with playing games online is nothing new, I see it every time I join a match in [INSERT MODERN SHOOTER TITLE HERE] and while it’s certainly annoying, ignoring all those homophobic tweens is super effective and doesn’t require much effort on my part.
Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t work in lawless worlds like Chernarus, where there’s no easy escape from terrible people who can now have a real impact on your experience. The fact that countless hours of progress can be undone by an asshole with a gun might sound appealing to fans of Dark Souls and roguelikes. It would to me too, if there was something I could learn from it.
Death in roguelikes is a learning experience. Every death teaches me something, making me better at the game. It’s tough, but that makes each victory all the more rewarding. So what do we learn from dying over and over and over again in these games, other than some people are awful?
This genre sounds more like a metaphor for life than a game. That might even be the appeal. Maybe there are millions of people out there who have been waiting for a game to come along that’s as unforgiving as life often is, with far less rules and the reality that no matter how hard you work, it can be undone in an instant. If that’s the answer, I still don’t get it.
That leads me to my question. If you enjoy playing these games, tell me why you do in the comments. It doesn’t need to be a good reason, just your reason.
Brad Pitt and Paramount Pictures’ World War Z was an epic disaster that transformed into an epic success. Behind the scenes, there were tons of rewrites and reshoot, including a new finale that wasn’t nearly as climactic and violent as having zombie heads spliced off with a decapitating gun.
Being such a huge box office success, it was no surprise that a sequel was quickly put into development. Only, it’s been awhile, and we haven’t heard much.
IndieWire caught up with Steven Knight, the sequel’s screenwriter, who had this brief update:
“I thought, ‘why not? What fun.’” said Knight on his decision to take a crack at the script. “It’s not quite like the other; we’re starting with clean slate. When they’ve signed off [Paramount and Plan B], we’re on.”
For whatever reason, the interviewer never follows up, so it’s unclear what “clean slate” means. Did they start the screenplay from scratch or are they abandoning Pitt’s storyline and starting from scratch? I’m not exactly sure why they’d continue the franchise without Pitt, so the former seams more likely.
As of this writing, shooting could start as early as October 2015.
In November 2008, Deftones bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a serious car accident that left him in a coma and ultimately took his life in April of 2013. One of the side effects of this tragedy was that the band’s album, which has a working title of Eros, never got to see the light of day. However, as time has progressed, the band has hinted that Eros may in fact be released at some time, although nothing has been guaranteed.
Now, a video that purports to feature video and in-studio images during the Eros recording sessions has found its way online and can be seen below. The music featured is all instrumental but sounds fantastic. It seems like this could’ve been a truly incredible entry into the band’s already stellar career.
Adam Green announces a tour for Digging Up the Marrow, which will be released theatrically February 20, 2015.
Image Entertainment’s Digging Up the Marrow was written and directed by Adam Green (Froze, Hatchet, Hatchet II), and inspired by the artwork of artist Alex Pardee.
The film stars Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, X-Men First Class), Will Barratt (Frozen), and a roster full of horror genre favorites and iconic artists all appearing as themselves.
“When filmmaker Adam Green receives a package from a strange man (Ray Wise) claiming he can prove that monsters exist, he and his crew are taken on a mysterious, fantastical, and terrifying journey into the shadows deep down under the ground below our feet. Digging Up the Marrow is a documentary-style film that blends reality with fantasy in a way that will leave even the most hardcore skeptics believing in the existence of monsters.”
The “TOURING THROUGH THE MARROW” 2015 tour dates are in! Join writer/director/star Adam Green and artist/executive producer Alex Pardee for a one-of-a-kind special event as they bring DIGGING UP THE MARROW, an audience Q&A, an art exhibit of Alex Pardee’s original artwork that inspired the film, one of their favorite monsters from the film, and exclusive tour merchandise to the following cities:
Thursday February 12th: San Francisco, CA (Landmark Shattuck)
Monday February 16th: Boston, MA (Landmark Kendall Square) – Presented by Rock N Shock
Tuesday February 17th: New York, NY (Landmark Sunshine)
Wednesday February 18th: Austin, TX (Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar) – Presented by Ain’t It Cool News
Thursday February 19th: Los Angeles, CA (Landmark Regent)
DIGGING UP THE MARROW opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle North Hollywood Cinema on Friday February 20th where it will run nightly for the next two weeks. It also hits Video On Demand everywhere that same day (including outlets such as iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox, Sony Playstation, VUDU, GooglePlay, and more). Tickets for the tour will go on-sale soon through each cinema directly. Information about VIP ticket options and the awesome merchandise secured by having a VIP ticket will be coming very soon.
And don’t fear… not only will the film theatrically expand to more cities during the week of March 12th (cities TBA), but more special engagement screenings and appearances will be announced soon! If you live in the USA there is absolutely a way to see this film in February whether it be on the tour, a special engagement, the theatrical release, or on VOD. And then…
The DVD and Blu-Ray (packed with special features) releases on March 24th and you can support the artists directly by pre-ordering your very own copy autographed by Adam Green right here.
Not much to report here, but its worth mentioning because so many of you are excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It seems that Marvel will be launching a brand new team of Avengers once Jonathan Hickman ends his epic run on the flagship team and begins his yearlong saga with “Secret Wars.”
It’s hard to imagine who or what will provide the impetus for creating this all new team, but if we look back to 1975 when Marvel launched the All New All Different X-Men, we had a multicultural team for the very first time. That’s when Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler joined the fray. Now, I can’t imagine we’ll get an assortment of all new characters because there needs to be some symmetry between the film universe and the comics.
Now don’t read on if you don’t want to know possible details about Age of Ultron’s ending. But the rumor is… You’ve been warned!
The original Avengers are in pretty bad shape by the end of the film. This is being called The Empire Strikes Back of superhero movies, but the movie ends with Captain America founding an all new supergroup comprised of Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange, Quicksilver, and Scarlett Witch. I’m sure they’ll be a few surprises, but I would imagine May 2015 isn’t a bad time to bring the next phase of movie superheroes to the forefront of their biggest titles on the stands.
Chances are good we’ll know the creative team, and a lot more details by this time next month.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a trio of documentarians set out to discover what was initially thought to be a legend, end up finding some horrifying stuff, get lost and eventually disappear. The only trace that remains of them is their raw documentary footage.
Wait, come back! This isn’t The Blair Witch Project! It’s Dark Mountain, directed by Tara Anaïse. Yeah, I know that it sounds like a rip-off of a film that’s been done to death and then some for the past 16 years, but that doesn’t mean that the film is a total waste of 80 minutes, right? I mean, there’s likely to be something added to the film to not make it a carbon copy.
In March 2011, Kate (Sage Howard) is working on a documentary about the Lost Dutchman Mine, located in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. Kate, her boyfriend Paul (Andrew Simpson) and their friend Ross (Shelby Stehlin) take a trip to said mountains in order to interview locals and the curator of the Superstition Mountain Museum. Kate decides to make an effort to discover the Lost Dutchman Mine, and catalogue it for the documentary. However, after two days hiking in the wilderness, the trio begin to see and discover increasingly disturbing finds, culminating in their own disappearance. This footage is all that remains.
Right away, Dark Mountain scores points for it’s visuals. The American Southwest locale is absolutely beautiful during the day, and suitably creepy at night. Establishing shots of the vistas and mountains really capture the remoteness of the area, and are just plain good old eye candy. It’s a nice change from the usual wooded areas that have become a trope on their own for these types of films. Adding to these visuals are some wonderful ambient sounds and the psychedelic soundtrack by the Filthy Huns, the latter of which reminds me of the teaser trailer for The Hills Have Eyes 2 (yeah, I know).
One thing that I liked about Blair Witch was the attempt at authenticity by interviewing the locals. It was both an immersive tactic, and it added flavour to the film. Director Tara Anaïse obviously took the hint, and did just that with her film. The locals (who are real people) give honest answers and really sell that feeling of authenticity. As well, our protagonists do their part in making their characters believable with performances that are natural and real, like in Blair Witch…until they do certain things that ruin that sense of disbelief.
Part of what made Blair Witch so entertaining was the fact that you had people reacting as people, not actors reacting according to a script. Case in point: Kate sees something behind Paul while they’re in a cave. She freaks out and runs, and as soon as Paul catches up with her, she’s totally calm and responds that it was probably bats. Also, nice coordinated jump-scare by Ross leaping into frame, “scaring” Kate. Instead of reacting appropriately (ie. “Where the f*ck were you?!”), she calmly asks Ross where he was. Insert the “taking a piss” cliché. There are more instances like that as the film progresses (who decides to not open a just-uncovered hatch until tomorrow, even though there’s plenty of light out and you’re right there?) that end up shattering the illusion, leaving you wishing Michael and Heather were screaming for Josh.
If it hasn’t been painfully obvious by now, this film is really just a blatant rip-off of The Blair Witch Project. The film itself doesn’t even try to hide it when the characters make a clear verbal reference to The Blair Witch Project. Does that somehow magically pardon Anaïse’s film from copying it? Hell no! By the same token, I was willing to give this film a chance in hopes that perhaps there would be something that set it apart from the rest of the xeroxed films. Other than a change in locale, a few red herrings and the use of real actors, there’s virtually nothing. And throwing on Super-8 filters in your film when it’s clear that you’re filming digitally is just plain insulting.
Instead of trying something new, and getting attention, experience and exposure that way, Dark Mountain just photocopied Eduardo Sánchez’s film, switched the location, swapped out witches with a haunted mine and expected people to flock to it. Uh, no. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to see The Blair Witch Project, go watch that film, and don’t piss in my ear and tell me it’s raining with Dark Mountain.
Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, the transfer looks pretty good, even for a “found footage” film. The image is, for the most part, sharp and colourful, with your typical post-production tape distortions thrown in.
The Dolby digital 5.1 track, like the video, is quite good as well. The track is largely front-focused, with much of the ambient effects kept to the surrounding channels. It’s all good though, as it helps to envelope the viewer and provides adequate room for the musical score. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, with no hissing or distortion.
The sole extra included is eleven minutes of interviews. Not with the cast, crew or anything involved with making the film. Instead, it’s just Kate interviewing locals. I hate filler extras.
Since its release, an extremely dedicated community of modders and aspiring game developers has grown around Amnesia: The Dark Descent, keeping it alive far longer than the “active” lifespan the average survival game might enjoy. One of the more acclaimed works to come from its community is Penumbra: Necrologue, a total conversion mod that released last Halloween.
It’s oddly fitting that this fan-made mod should pick up where Penumbra: Requiem left off, seeing as Amnesia wouldn’t have been possible without the Penumbra trilogy.
Necrologue is available now on ModDB, where it won Best Singleplayer in the site’s Mod of the Year awards. With English and Russian voice work, multiple endings and an original soundtrack, it sounds like a true passion project.
The game recently arrived on Steam Greenlight, along with some brand new footage. Once it’s been approved, Necrologue will release as a free-to-play title.