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Devil’s Gate (2017)

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Set in the small town of Devil’s GateDevil's Gate, North Dakota, the film examines the disappearance of a local woman and her young son. FBI Special agent Daria Francis helps the local sheriff search for answers. Partnering with a deputy, they track down the missing woman’s husband and find that nothing is as it seems.

Genre : Horror/SF
Country : USA/Canada

Cast :
Milo Ventimiglia : Jackson Pritchard
Amanda Schull : FBI Special agent Daria Francis
Shawn Ashmore : Colt

Director :
Clay Staub

My opinion on “Devil’s Gate”

“You both need to clear off my property,
or as god is my witnessI will not be responsible for what happens!
Colt, If she goes in there Maria and Jonah are as good as dead.”

An onrushing hot rod that suddenly breaks down near an awful looking, abandoned farm with lots of barbed wire and warning signs. There are squeaky doors and you can hear a howling wind while the person with car trouble is looking for someone who can help him. And then he experiences that awful moment. Something he did not see coming. I immediately sat straight up in my chair and expected an intense horror. Especially when the title of the film is “Devil’s gate”. The poor, dilapidated farmstead and the desolate environment immediately reminded me of “The Texas chainsaw massacre”. A no-man’s-land where a psychopathic, crazy family terrorizes and kills lost tourists so they can brew a hearty one-pan meal afterwards. To my disappointment, the movie title turned out to be the name of the town where the story takes place.

Devil's Gate

Lot of diversity in this movie.

To be honest, the first part of the movie was tremendously fascinating. A missing woman and her son. The F.B.I. Agente Daria (Amanda Schull) who, together with the local policeman Colt (Shawn Ashmore), investigates the disappearance of both persons. And the downright suspicious acting Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia) where the two enforcers of the law finally arrive. And when the two law enforcement officers make a rather disconcerting discovery in the Jackson cellar, the film will take a completely different turn. That’s the biggest plus of this film. The surprise effect is huge. You are repeatedly misled. One moment you expect a sort of “Silence of the Lambs” serial killer scenario. Then you come to the conclusion that this film has an “X-Files” vibe. Such a movie you’d come across on some SyFy channel.

Devil's Gate

Great images. Weak story.

Unfortunately, the quality of this indie SF drops as the film progresses. I wasn’t interested in the religious aspect. The “an eye for an eye” principle was rather laughable. Despite the sometimes high-quality special effects and generally not so bad acting (with even a cameo of the Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes), this film didn’t really appeal to me. It seemed as if a whole arsenal of ideas and proposals were being collected and subsequently they didn’t know anymore which direction it should go. In the end it felt as if I had watched a pilot episode of the umpteenth television series. Devil’s gate” is such a film where the story doesn’t really match the footage when it comes to quality. Unfortunately. Because it had potential.

My rating 4/10
Links : IMDB

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IT: Chapter Two | Comic-Con Trailer – HD

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Rating:
Rated-R
Genre:
Horror/Thriller
Release Date:
September 6, 2019  
Director:
Andy Muschietti
Cast:
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Javier Botet, Bill Skatsgard, Bill Hader, Troy James

Plot Summary:

In the sleepy town of Derry, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to torment the grown-up members of the Losers’ Club, who have long since drifted apart from one another.
Release date: September 6, 2019 

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Ánimas – A Worthy Addition To The Netflix Originals Range

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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
Links: IMDB

 

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Deadsight – An Interesting Take On A Subgenre That Could Have Been Buried A Long Time Ago

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Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jesse Thomas Cook
Cast:
Adam Seybold
Liv Collins
Ry Barrett

 

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.

 

 

Rating 5/10
Links : IMDB

Deadsight is now available on Bluray, DVD and VOD

 

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