Genre : Horror
Country : USA/Canada
Joey King : Clare
Shannon Purser : June
Sydney Park : Meredith
John R. Leonetti
My opinion on “Man Down”
“I just found it at this fancy place.
It’s got Chinese writing on it.
Figured since you’re taking Chinese…
Just consider it an early birthday present.”
It feels as if it’s centuries ago, but I can still remember me and my wife (when our relationship was not yet sealed by the lifelong ritual called marriage) going to the cinema to watch “Final Destination“. Nothing special according to you? Well, I told her that it was just an ordinary thriller. Just to put her at ease, since she isn’t such a fervent fan of horrors. Even worse. This genre gives her restless nights full of nightmares. Believe me, she was terrified the whole movie. That was the first time she was terribly angry with me (and it wouldn’t be the last time). I admit it. I love films where the principle of “what goes around comes around” causes bloody situations. And if I compare “Wish upon” with the “Final destination“-franchise, this would be a better choice for my wife to watch. Because to be honest, even though it’s not a bad horror at all and I had fun watching it, it’s not in the same league as “Final destination”. So next to soft-porno for men to gaze at, they’ve invented soft-horror for teen girls.
Only seven wishes ? Bummer.
This is not about a group of teenagers who outsmarted Death. It’s about a teenage girl names Clare (Joey King) whose life looks more like a horror than the film itself. Her mother committed suicide when she was still young. Her father (Ryan Philippe) has a job as a garbage man. And she’s very ashamed about that. And she herself isn’t very popular at school and is being bullied on a daily base by some bee-yatches at school whose families are rich folks. The only support she finds is from her two best friends Meredith (Sydney Park) and June (Shannon Purser). Until her father finds a mysterious looking box with some mysterious Chinese text while going through some garbage. Thanks to her Chinese lesson in school, Clare can decipher that she is allowed to do seven wishes. And believe me, she starts doing that without blinking.
I wished her wishes wouldnt be so obvious.
As I said before, this is the softer version of “Final destination“. I didn’t think it was creepy. And the fatal results of Clare’s wishes weren’t portrayed explicitly. When I think of “Final destination“, I still can imagine the scene on the motorway vividly. Those spinning tree trunks penetrating the front window of a car and squashing everything that comes in its way. Plus all the crashing vehicles in slow motion. I’m sure I won’t remember much of “Wish upon” in a week or two. And that’s because of the lack of impressive images. The story itself is also extremely predictable. The wish-list of Clare is limited to meaningless things as status, financial freedom and making sure the popular boy from school will be hopping after her in a hopeless way. It all feels a bit standard and teeny. And to be honest, my feelings of compassion for Clare soon were replaced by an aversion because of her naive egoism. Lets say I didn’t feel sorry for her in the end.
Are you a teenager and still a newbie when it’s about horror? Well, I can only recommend to start with this one. Nothing as cozy as a film to go and see with your best friends where things that concern you at your age are covered. The fact someone dies everytime there’s a wish, probably is a side issue. Hopefully there isn’t a figure standing at the exit of the cinema, all dressed up in black, holding a huge sickle, waving with a bony index finger and warning you that greed can have unpleasant consequences sometimes. Well, that’s the moment you should start screaming and run away as fast as you can.
My rating 5/10
Links : IMDB
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Ánimas – A Worthy Addition To The Netflix Originals Range
When you’re five, it’s normal
to have imaginary friends…
But at my age, it means you’re crazy.
“Ánimas” certainly isn’t an easy film. It also takes a while before you realize what’s actually going on. The film looks enormously artistic thanks to the quirky image setting. Scenes in different color palettes alternate. From intense red and bright orange to soothing green. I suppose it’s “a state of mind” related kind of thing. I can’t come up with another deeper meaning. Although I read a statement somewhere where the concept of traffic lights seemed a plausible explanation. The only thing that bothered me sometimes, was the constantly flickering lights. “Ánimas” in itself wasn’t really a horror. But that is perhaps due to the fact that the entire film is spoken in Spanish which gives me a sort of holiday feeling. The movie shows how the psyché of a tormented person functions and how a specific incident can provide a psychological defense mechanism. Hence the sometimes hallucinatory and surrealistic images.
The result after years of abuse.
It may all sound a bit absurd and complicated. And on top of that, the film is terribly slow in the beginning as well. It starts with Bram (Ivan Pellicer) and Alex (Clare Durant) meeting on the stairs of the apartment where both children live. Bram anxiously hiding there in the stairwell while his father (Luis Bermejo) rages in their home. From the outset, it’s abundantly clear that domestic violence is involved. When Alex tells him how to deal with fear and ensures him she’ll repair his broken yo-yo, it’s the start of a close friendship. A friendship that stays close until both finish high school and they are ready for a university career. A carefree life in which only a budding romance between Bram and Anchi (Chacha Huang) causes agitation for Alex. Well, so it seems. Until we get to see fairly bizarre images. Alex hurting herself while standing in front of the mirror. And the moment Bram’s mother comes into the picture, you realize the home situation there isn’t normal either. A catatonic looking woman who is constantly staring at a clock and appears to be lifeless. The result after years of living under the yoke of a violent husband and father.
Is it a dream or is it real?
As mentioned, the film seems rather chaotic and difficult to follow at a certain moment. The bizarre storyline and sudden flashbacks don’t make it easy. And when ghostly appearances and mysterious shadows begin to play along, targeting Alex apparently, the film goes down a more sinister path. “Ánimas” wasn’t really horror for me but rather a psychological thriller. A film that seeks to visualize the psyche of a traumatized individual. At times it seemed as if Alex was moving in an unrealistic world created by Escher. It causes confusion. Both for Alex and the viewer. You wonder whether it’s reality or a dream world. Until the moment of the disclosure in the end (or perhaps a bit earlier when you start realizing a little bit what the plausible explanation might be) because then everything suddenly becomes clearer.
Worthwhile to hang on till the end.
“Ánimas” is no ordinary, average horror or thriller. The story has been built up too cleverly for this. And even though you get shivers from the spooky and darkly dilapidated apartment building and the characters are creepy in a certain way, the film will certainly not scare you. I found the acting of the two main characters sublime. Bram, the timid teenager who hides in his own little world far from everything that could harm him. Alex, the bustling teenager whose personality is difficult to place. Only the relationship between the two protagonists remains a bit blurred at the start. And perhaps many will drop out after a while because maybe the movie is too slow, too meaningless and too confusing for them. However, it’s worth the effort to sit out the film in such a way that the entire setup becomes clearer. Perhaps it’s not a film that’ll resonate for a long time and stays with you for days. But it’s a worthy addition to the Netflix Originals range.
You can watch Ánimas on Netflix now!
My rating 5/10
Deadsight – An Interesting Take On A Subgenre That Could Have Been Buried A Long Time Ago
Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jesse Thomas Cook
Overnight a deadly virus sweeps across the Grey County part of Ontario. Turning the recently deceased into flesh eating ghouls this mysterious disease ravages this once-quiet Canadian county. A living nightmare for your average person it’s particularly bad for Ben Neilson (Adam Seybold) who is blind. Waking up roadside inside of an ambulance, Ben is quickly forced to deal with his new reality. Able to evade the undead, Ben crosses paths with the inexperienced and very pregnant Officer Mara Madigan (Liv Collins). Relying on each other for help they try to figure out what happened to their once quiet community.
Unlike a lot of other zombie movies Deadsight takes a more minimalistic approach. We aren’t dealing with a worldwide epidemic or having our heroes go on a search for patient zero to make a cure. Instead most of the focus is on Ben and Mara trying to reach safety. Adam Seybold does an admirable job in the lead role as Ben. From the moment he wakes up handcuffed in the ambulance audiences can’t help but be sympathetic for Ben. With his eyes blindfolded like a zombie infested Bird Box, a task as simple as avoiding a zombie to reach the front of an ambulance has all the tension of avoiding an entire horde of the undead. As difficult as this sounds things aren’t going much better for Mara.
Late in her pregnancy and about ready to give birth saying she’s in over her head is an understatement. Portrayed by co-writer and producer Liv Collins she shows a vulnerability you don’t typically see in a zombie movie. While brave and willing to jump into danger, Mara is still about to give birth. With each contraction Mara and Ben are brought closer and closer to danger. With each of them having their own difficulties it makes for an interesting watch with stakes not typically seen in movies like this.
A veteran of the indie horror scene, director Jesse Thomas Cook (Monster Brawl, The Horde) has proven himself to be more than capable behind the camera. Joined by cinematographer Jeff Maher the two are able to do so much with so little budget. Set against the mountains of rural Canada, Deadsight can’t help but echo the loneliness of the tundra. As the film reaches its climax the lighting is reminiscent of Dario Argento with deep red and green. But as good as it looks that doesn’t mean that the film’s budget ever shows.
For a lot of the zombies themselves practical effects and make up is used and it looks good for the most part. Not quite the quality of The Walking Dead but more than the blue paint used in George A. Romero’s early work. What doesn’t work is when they have to rely on special effects. For most of the zombie kills Deadsight relies on some dreadful looking CG with every headshot looking like it came from a PS3. Add in the handheld camera used for most of the film and it can be a tough watch at times.
It takes a lot to make a zombie movie in 2019. It isn’t due to limits in technology nor an economic barrier to entry. I can’t even say it’s entirely due to the genre’s overexposure. No the biggest problem with the zombie movie is that seemingly everything has been done. For those looking for long form storytelling mixed with their headshots there is The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead. For a more lighthearted affair there is Shaun of the Dead. Even if you want to see the storytelling mixed with your zomcom there’s Z Nation waiting for you on Netflix. Whether they’re walking, running or legless there are at least a couple of movies about it. Which is exactly what makes Deadsight so unique. For all of its faults, and there are quite a few, it is something unique from every other zombie movie. What it lacks in budget is made up with some tight film making and two good performances from Andy Seybold and Liv Collins. Deadsight might not be the next Dawn of the Dead but it’s an interesting take on a subgenre that could have been buried a long time ago.
Links : IMDB
Deadsight is now available on Bluray, DVD and VOD
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