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SWISS ARMY MAN (2016)

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swa_86_online.jpgRated R Adventure, comedy, drama

RELEASE DATE:

July 1, 2016

DIRECTOR:

Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

CAST:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano, Timothy Eulich


 

HORROR

Monster Party – The Acting Is Far From Amateurish Or Toe Curling Bad

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Them fucking yuppie scums
won’t know what hit them.

Perhaps it would be better that future burglars screen the residents of the targeted house first and then see if there’s something to get. That’s certainly a lesson those young burglars have learned in the movie “Monster Party“. After seeing the mansion they’re planning to rob, they’re convinced that the loot will be big enough. What they didn’t expect was an utter crazy company at dinner with a fairly dark secret. A kind of AA meeting. But not the “A” of alcohol but the “A” of aggression. And this with a capital A.

 

Monster Party

Oh boy, a humorous horror.

My expectations weren’t high at all. I thought the movie would be a second-class slasher once again. And what bothered me the most about the film, was the fact that it’s a combination of humor and horror. And let that now be the combination I least believe in. While watching most of these types of horrors I always get the feeling that neither of the two genres is completed. Most of the time the humor is so lousy that I can’t even smile. And at the same time, the horror story is usually only moderately worked out. Well, a person can be wrong. In the case of “Monster Party” I was completely wrong. Both the cynical, black humor (the kind of humor I like the most) and the bloody and creepy parts weren’t that bad.

 

Monster Party

 

It certainly is a hornet’s nest.

When the three juvenile criminals Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall), Casper (Sean Strike) and Iris (Virginia Gardner) choose this larger target where they can demonstrate their burglar’s talent, they aren’t realizing that they are plunging into a hornet’s nest. The Dawsons are a wealthy family who organizes a dinner party at their large country house and Iris happens to work there as a waitress for the appointed catering company. The three youngsters all have a good (financial) reason to take the risk. From the outset, you have this feeling that the members of this company aren’t functioning normally.

 

Monster Party

 

Just wait till the madness starts.

Have you watched the trailer already? Well, then you already know how it unfolds. Impatient gore fans most probably will be waiting nervously for that moment when the madness starts. And that waiting will be rewarded. Not only because of the bloody situations (and they were reasonably inventive as to how some were slaughtered). But also because of the extraordinary acting performances. Especially Kian Lawley, as the crazy son Elliot whose gaze is a mix of madness and sadism (and he enjoys it), and Julian McMahon as host Patrick whose ultra-calm appearance is really nothing more than a masquerade. Virginia Gardner also acts excellently at specific moments. And for the first time, I even thought that these bloody events were amusing. And there’s more. Director Hoffman has a little surprise in store. Normally I would say this type of surprise was a bit exaggerated. Not now. I thought it was a nice contribution to the movie.

 

Monster Party

 

A noteworthy low-budget slasher.

I’m pretty sure “Monster Party” was made with a micro-budget. The number of locations in this film is fairly limited and the massacres usually take place off-camera. But the main characteristic of a low-budget film wasn’t present here. Mostly the acting-part is rather tedious and crappy in low-budget movies. But in “Monster Party” the acting is far from amateurish or toe-curling bad. On the contrary. And they acted with noticeable pleasure. Cinematographically it looks slick. The pace is just right. And there’s even a feeling of tension as the plot unfolds. In short, a noteworthy film you definitely don’t need to avoid. Watch it when you get the opportunity.

 

My rating 6.5/10
Links: IMDB

 

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HORROR

Pledge – “One Of The Better Low-Budget Indie Horror Movies I’ve Seen In The Last Year”

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Do I tuck my shirt in?
I don’t care, you look like you’re gonna fix the computer anyway.

This straightforward movie “Pledge” managed to surprise me. At first, I didn’t expect much from it. But as the story unfolded, I thought that the makers of this horror story had incorporated some strong elements into it. Those who have experienced the rush into a fraternity personally will be happy that they didn’t have to endure a similar experience. It’s extremely difficult to stand out with horror when you see the number of horrors being released these days. After the first 20 minutes, it looks like you are going to watch a remake of “Porky’s“. Or better still, “Revenge of the Nerds“. You could say it was funny one way or another. But the fun part soon made way for the disturbing section. An atmosphere of panic, fear, and despair prevails until the end of the film.

 

Pledge

They didn’t have to ask twice.

Three close friends, who probably always sit on the sidelines when it comes to social events, do their utmost to be admitted by a fraternity. Hence the title of this film. The film starts with David (Zack Weiner, writer of this film), Ethan (Philip Andre Botello) and Justin (Zachery Byrd) who visit one clubhouse after the other. The three nerds, however, are rejected, ridiculed or simply denied access everywhere. Until they suddenly receive an invitation from a hot looking girl to attend a private party somewhere on a remote domain. An orgasmic experience with ditches of alcohol in the company of a horde of ravishing looking young ladies. Young ladies who they refer to as being “out of their league” most probably. Not surprisingly, all three (and a few other “freshmen”) over-enthusiastically agree with Max’s (Aaron Dalla Villa) invitation to join this exclusive student association. An elitist club with only a limited number of members.

 

Pledge

 

It certainly isn’t a typical ritual.

Unfortunately, the hazing procedure is rather rough on our 3 friends. It’s well known there are often oddities and extreme things involved during hazings here in Belgium. Binge drinking, beating with a cricket bat, sexually charged assignments and eating disgusting things. Other academies are taking it a bit easier. There, students have to work out a translation or explanation about a certain topic as an assignment. Boring! The club our three nerds want to join has another agenda. The assignments are painful, disgusting and especially deadly in nature. It’s not really terrible “torture porn”. So don’t expect situations as in “Hostel” or “Saw“. Could be I’m insensitive to that. When you’re able to watch a movie such as “Martyrs” without feeling disturbed, the humiliations the newbies have to undergo are of Sesame Street level.

 

Pledge

 

Decent acting.

There’s a lot of decent acting in “Pledge“. The three silly friends portray those typical characters who are mostly the center of mockery and bullying in American schools. A chubby dude who’s always asking for something to eat and cannot really be praised for his speed. The nerdy guy who most likely spends his days sitting behind a screen and always says the wrong things. And finally, a kind of a sissy who reacts girlishly to threatening situations and most certainly will jump on a chair when a mouse appears in front of him. Three types that are convincingly interpreted by Zachery Byrd, Zack Weiner, and Philip Andre Botello. But especially Aaron Dalla Villa made an impression. That demonic look and sadistic tone fit perfectly with the cruel Max.

 

Pledge

 

Low-Budget but certainly successful.

Thanks to the short playing time, “Pledge” is suitable as an in-betweener during a weekday evening. Thanks to the pace of the film, it never gets boring. And although I found the horror level quite average, they managed to deliver an intense and exciting film. And despite the fact that it was a low-budget film (“Pledge” was funded through Kickstarter), I thought the cinematography was of high quality. The lurid and threatening atmosphere was not only delivered by the story but certainly also by the supplied footage. To be honest, “Pledge” is one of the better Low-Budget indie horror movies I’ve seen in the last year. Certainly a must-see for lovers of the genre.

 

My rating 6.5/10
Links: IMDB

 

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The Cleaning Lady – Gives You a Good Reason to Dust Off Your DVD Player.

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Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jon Knautz

Cast:
Alexis Kendra
Rachel Alig
Stelio Savante

 

First impressions are always important. It doesn’t matter if it is the first handshake at a job interview or the first note in a song, that first step can tell you everything you need to know. And when The Cleaning Lady opens with rats entering a blender you know director Jon Knautz is not here to play around.

Co-written by Knautz and Alexis Kendra, The Cleaning Lady is about beautician Alice (played by Kendra). Seeming to have the perfect life she is a recovering love addict she is looking to clean her life up after a lengthy affair with a married man. A chance encounter with the disfigured Shelly (Rachel Alig) leads to a fast friendship. But when Alice begins to confide her deepest secrets to Shelly their friendship takes a turn for the worst.

Now if the plot for The Cleaning Lady sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. Similar to Greta from earlier this year, Single White Female‘s DNA is embedded into The Cleaning Lady. Thankfully Knautz and Kendra did more than just a remake the 90’s cult classic. Leaning more towards the horror genre, The Cleaning Lady delivers on the scares. When Shelly is finally driven over the edge she delivers some of the more violent kills I’ve seen this year. Less about the gore itself (although things do get bloody) it’s the sheer brutality of them that made me cringe a couple of time. The attention to detail doesn’t end there either.

Wisely the two are able to infuse Alice and Shelly with the kind of depth you don’t typically see in this kind of thriller. By making Alice and Shelly so flawed it not only plays with the audiences expectations but makes us question where our sympathies lie. A big part of this are Alexis Kendra and Rachel Alig bringing Alice and Shelly to life.

As amazing as Alexis Kendra is as Alice I was particularly impressed with Rachel Alig’s portrayal of Shelly. Despite having fewer lines and the prosthetic makeup Alig is able to get across how broken Shelly is better than a monologue ever could. The way she slumps she slumps and mumbles one word answers can be absolutely heart breaking. At the same time Alig is able to give her an edge as the film goes on; turning seemingly innocent gestures into bone chilling brutality. And this is before we learn about how she was disfigured. A truly tragic villain, Alig is able to give her the complex performance this character needs.

If the film has any problems it is how oddly paced it is. Although paced well for the most part the final act feels rushed which really hurts the ending. Given I don’t think it needs to be as long as Avengers: Endgame but a few extra minutes could go a long way in helping The Cleaning Lady stick the landing.

Despite some pacing issues Jon Knautz and Alexis Kendra have made one of the scarier movies of the year. A terrifying take on a familiar story, The Cleaning Lady not only scares but gives an interesting look at codependency and toxic relationships. With two killer performances and real skill behind the camera The Cleaning Lady gives you a good reason to dust off your DVD player.

 

Rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

The Cleaning Lady is now in theaters and on VOD

 

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