The Silver Bullet ~ Honeymoon

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Synopsis: Young newlyweds struggle as their honeymoon spirals mysteriously into chaos.

Release Date: September 12, 2014

Thoughts: This low budget indie out of England probably won’t play in many theaters around the country and your best bet will be to catch this OnDemand or when it arrives at Redbox/Netflix.  I can’t vouch for how good this Honeymoon will be, but the makings are there for a tidy bundle of scares in the woods for our nubile couple hoping to celebrate their nuptials in seclusion.  I’m digging the poster and the early footage seen in the trailer and as a lover of these types of horror films, I’m hoping to love, honor, and obey this one in sickness and in health.

The Silver Bullet ~ Stage Fright (2014)

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Synopsis: A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater.

Release Date:  April 3, 2014

Thoughts: I’ve no illusions that Stage Fright will be anything more than a diversion of sorts from the recent patch of franchise horror films that Hollywood churns out at peak times each year.  Yet I can’t help but find that I enjoy this trailer for the slasher musical quite a lot, mostly because it’s clearly lampooning several different genres at once…walking the tightrope between taking itself too seriously and treading into Naked Gun-ny territory.  Clearly inspired by the Scream series and probably the minor cult hit Camp, Stage Fright could be the perfect treat for the musical theater nerd that loves horror films or the horror aficionado that doesn’t mind occasionally blasting a Sondheim tune.

The Silver Bullet ~ Big Bad Wolves

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Synopsis: A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course

Release Date:  January 17, 2014 (limited)

Thoughts: You’d be forgiven if this preview for a gritty Israeli thriller reminds you a tad of the intense 2013 US film Prisoners (so good it made my Best of 2013 list) because the plot is eerily similar: an ordinary father and a dedicated cop are drawn to the dark side when investigating a horrendous crime against children.  Though Prisoners left little the imagination (but did it with some class), it looks a bit like Big Bad Wolves may take it a step further though I hope the same kind of restraint is exhibited by the filmmakers.  With a superlative endorsement from Quentin Tarantino, Big Bad Wolves could be a nifty breath of nasty crime drama air for audiences.

Movie Review ~ Europa Report

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The Facts:

Synopsis: An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.

Stars: Michael Nyqvist, Sharlto Copley, Embeth Davidtz, Daniel Wu, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra, Anamaria Marinca

Director: Sebastian Cordero

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 90 minutes

Trailer Review: Here

TMMM Score: (7/10)

Review: For all the big budget sturm und drang blockbusters coming out of Hollywood nowadays, it’s nice to be reminded that good films can still be made on smaller budgets.  Now, we all know that an indie comedy or drama could be produced for next to nothing but what about a science fiction film taking place in a galaxy far from earth?

That’s the first question I had when I saw the preview for Europa Report, director Sebastian Cordero’s thoughtfully meditative sci-fi morsel, back in early 2013.  I’d recently come off of a run of impressive space set features (like the exquisitely designed and audience dividing Alien prequel Prometheus) so even though my interest was piqued my eyebrow was raised in a most questioning manner.

Ten minutes into the film and I knew Cordero had a winner on his hands, a film with the dramatic thrust of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the hidden unknown of The Abyss, and the threat of danger of the aforementioned Prometheus.  Though small in scope the film is an impressive achievement considering the budget was less than 10 million dollars, didn’t boast any big name stars, and was released during the busy summer months when films like Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6 were ruling the charts.

The set-up is mostly hum-drum with a crew of six traveling to a moon of Jupiter to investigate any signs of life.  As these missions often go, the crew encounters as many troubles getting there as they do when they arrive including damaged equipment, sensory deprivation, in-fighting, and arguing over who drank the last serving of Tang (OK, that last one doesn’t happen but I can’t imagine after a year in space something similar wouldn’t occur).

What makes the film come to life is how Cordero works with his resources to make his movie not just another C-grade space set adventure.  There’s a consideration for savvy moviegoers who don’t necessarily want their sci-fi with lasers and slimy slimeballs but would appreciate an esoteric space journey that has mysteries of its own.  Revealing more would damage the impact so let’s just say not everyone onboard gets a chance to marvel at Jupiter’s vistas with their colleagues.

A gathering of international actors like Sharlto Copley (Open Grave, Elysium), Michael Nyqvist (Disconnect, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), Embeth Davidtz (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Amazing Spider-Man), and others gives the film a believably United Nations feel with each actor making the most out of their finely drawn characterizations.

When it starts to deal less with the unknown and more of the known the film loses a bit of its built up steam but the majority of its trim 90 minutes keeps you invested in the mission and the fates of the crew.  The production design is rich, whether the audience is watching the actors on earth, in their shuttle, or venturing out into the black darkness and it’s compounded nicely by just right special effects from several VFX studios (Phosphene, Method Studios, Look Effects, Perception, Quadratic Digital).

This is a film with a brain and one that may turn off those looking for a more action-packed outer space adventure (for that, make sure to see Gravity in 3D) instead of a smaller, slower-paced film that takes its time arriving at the final destination.

After a small release in theaters and OnDemand, Europa Report is available on most streaming services.  It’s one you’ll want to add to your queue if you like your sci-fi without a bunch of spiny aliens gnashing their gooey teeth at Sigourney Weaver (which, incidentally, I’m always a fan of).

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The Silver Bullet ~ Grand Piano

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Synopsis: Moments before his comeback performance, a concert pianist who suffers from stage fright discovers a deadly note written on his music sheet.

Release Date:  March 7, 2014

Thoughts: Taking more than a few choice notes from the likes of Hitchcock and De Palma (Passion), I’m hoping that Grand Piano is better than it looks.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a taut thriller set in a confined space where our lead had to figure out a way to escape death without tipping off the killer but I’m not sure if Elijah Wood has that everyman quality that made Cary Grant and James Stewart so appealing.  The trailer also makes the mistake of giving away the identity of protagonist which could be a risky move if there are no more surprises in store.  Arriving On Demand before a theatrical release, this is one that may go down easier from the comfort of your own couch.

The Silver Bullet ~ Best Night Ever

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Synopsis: A group of women go on a life changing adventure.

Release Date: January 31, 2014

Thoughts: I’m sure I’ve seen this movie before.  It was The Hangover (or The Hangover Part III), right?  Or was it Bachelorette?  Wait!  It was Spring Breakers.  Oh…it’s actually a new movie?  Hmmm.  Ok.  Though it’s billed as coming from the producers behind Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Conjuring this is supposedly a comedy but the laughs are scant in this first look at the low-budget Girls Gone Wild in Vegas exercise in Jackass-y taste.  At least one of the producers of this film knows how to market the hell out of his projects so he’ll  have his work cut out for him because based on the trailer it’s going to be a tough sell.

31 Days to Scare – I Saw the Devil (Akmareul boatda)

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The Facts:

Synopsis: When his pregnant fiancée becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.

Stars: Lee Byung-hyun, Choi Min-sik, Oh San-ha, Kim Yoon-seo

Director: Kim Jee-woon

Rated: R

Running Length: 141 minutes

TMMM Score: (7/10)

Review:

Review:  Not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit, the 2010 Korean film I Saw the Devil is a button-pushing, stomach-churning descent into the shadows of revenge.

A bold and badass film from director Kim Jee-woon (The Last Stand), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after reading some favorable reviews that contained warnings of the extreme violence within the 141 minute running time and nightmare-inducing scenes of torture.  Opening with a truly chilling scene involving a stranded female motorist and a seemingly good Samaritan that stops to help, it isn’t long before Jee-woon steers his ship through the heart of darkness and true evil by introducing us to the depraved madman (Choi Min-sik in a monumentally effective performance) that kills the pregnant fiancée of a Korean special agent (Byung-hyun Lee, Red 2).  Min-sik’s method of disposing of his victims culminates in scenes that will have you white knuckling it, daring yourself to keep your eyes open.

Had this been made in Hollywood there would surely have been the inclination to make the film about something more than the agent’s cold, bloody revenge and delirious pursuit of a killer,  but Jee-woon wisely strips away any excess fat and lets the movie build on its own merits of cinematic style and committed performances.

It’s the kind of film that will stick with you long after the final, devastating dénouement is made, leaving more innocent bystanders affected.  Not to be missed but do pay attention to the caveat of severe carnage and violence towards seemingly every woman that shows up on screen.

 

The Silver Bullet ~ Europa Report

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Synopsis: A crew of international astronauts are sent on a private mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon.

Release Date:  August 2, 2013

Thoughts: OK…it’s long been established that I have a weak spot for futuristic sci-fi films that explore some distance realms of space.  So far this year we’ve had Oblivion, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and by the end of the year we’ll see how Gravity and Elysium stack up.  I’m cautiously interested in this indie flick with an impressive trailer that feels like it might be better than the final product (I’m looking at you Apollo 11).  I’m such a sucker that I know I’ll seek this one out when it’s released OnDemand in June and in limited release in August.

The Silver Bullet ~ Kiss of the Damned

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Synopsis: Beautiful vampire Djuna tries to resist the advances of the handsome, human screenwriter Paolo but eventually gives in to their passion. When her troublemaker sister Mimi unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna’s love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered.

Release Date:  May 3, 2013

Thoughts: The name Cassavetes reminds most film savvy audiences of a particular style of film from the 70’s and 80’s and though John Cassavetes isn’t with us any longer, his legacy lives on not only in his films but in the works of his offspring.  Son Nick has directed several high profile films (including directing his mom Gena Rowlands in The Notebook) and now comes a film from his daughter Xan (Alexandra).  Though we don’t really need another vampire movie, this looks like a film that would make her dad proud.  Moody and atmospheric, Kiss of the Damned has its feet firmly planted in a stylized cinematic world that I’m intrigued to explore.

The Silver Bullet ~ Storage 24

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Synopsis: In London, a military plane crashes leaving its highly classified contents strewn across the city. Completely unaware that the city is in lockdown, a group of people become trapped inside a storage facility with a highly unwelcome guest.

Release Date:  January 11, 2013

Thoughts: Every now and then a low budget indie will emerge that is better than its humble origins.  Here’s hoping that’s the case with Storage 24 which looks to be an interesting mash up of several other sci-fi pictures.  The trailer indicates we’ll be seeing a lot of dark passages with evil lurking around every corner ready to terrorize our group of stock characters.  I’m willing to give the film a chance, though, as I’ve felt starved for a harmless scare/gore fest.  The film is available now on iTunes/On Demand before a (presumably) short release in theaters.