Genre : Fantasy–Horror
Country : United States
Director: Fritz Böhm
One of my favorite things about horror movies is the chance to see major stars appear in a scary movie before their big break. Who would have thought that Jennifer Aniston would be one of the highest paid actresses on television after Leprechaun? Or that the third sequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre would feature not just one but two Academy Award winners in Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey? Far less common is when a major star to become more known for their work in horror as they get older. It just doesn’t seem to happen. And while actors like Ben Kingsley and Jeremy Irons have dabbled in genre film few have embraced it like Brad Dourif.
After an extensive career on the stage Dourif gained notoriety in his very first film as Billy Bibbit in cinematic classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Nominated for an Academy Award and winning a Golden Globe he would have roles in cult classics like Dune and Blue Velvet. While he would become known as a supporting player and a respected character actors his life would change when he was cast as Chucky in Child’s Play. Since then he has become an icon of horror with memorable performances in Body Parts, The Exorcist III and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Still going strong with Cult of Chucky and Ready Player One his latest role is in the dark fairy tale, Wildling.
Raised in isolation, teenager Anna has only known “Daddy” her entire life. A man who has done everything he could to keep her from the outside world. When she is suddenly thrust into the rest of the world she comes to live with the woman who found her, Sheriff Ellen Cooper. Struggling with her place in the world, Ana soon learns that the truth behind the stories Daddy would tell her.
For an independent production, Wildling has quite the impressive cast. A horror veteran Brad Dourif is perfectly cast as Daddy. Despite a lack of screen time he makes the most of it telling a young Anna about the Wildlings, creatures with razor sharp teeth and claws that are searching for her. Part cryptkeeper and part loving father his simple yet creepy storytelling goes a long way in setting the tone for this fantasy-horror film. But as good as he and c0-star Liv Tyler are in their roles this movie truly belongs to Bel Powley.
Bel Powley is put in a tough spot as Anna. For most of the film she is silent, saying little more than a few words on screen. She has to go from unknowing prisoner to a sheltered girl being introduced to the world saying few words. Luckily for Wildling, Powley is more than up to the task. Originally presented as your classic fish out of water story you can practically see the cogs move behind Anna’s big, blue eyes in every scene. Thrust into a world she doesn’t quite understand the fear and confusion at how the world works is evident. At the same time, she never lets you forget about how menacing she can be. Throughout the film she displays quick and sudden movements showing off a more animalistic side hinted at throughout the film. A side that builds more and more as the Wildling goes on. It’s the kind of performance that sticks with you days after you finish watching.
I was equally impressed by writer-director Fritz Böhm. His first feature film he does a great job crafting a creature feature reminiscent of classics like 2000’s Ginger Snaps. He was able to find the perfect balance of fantasy, drama and horror, particularly during the first two acts. Böhm also isn’t afraid to let loose when it comes to the gore. Never feeling excessive, he is still more than willing to showcase some killer effects. Sadly, it starts to fall apart during the final act. While the first few acts are more about Anna discovering the truth about her ancestry and adjusting to a normal life the last half hour or so feels off. It’s as if Böhm felt the need to add a typical werewolf film ending but didn’t have enough time to build up to it. It’s the rare case where the film would have benefited from a good 15 or 20 minutes more.
Of all the monsters werewolves are perhaps the most versatile when it comes to storytelling. Due to their nature they can be either straight up monster movie or metaphors ranging from puberty to lost innocence. Wildling tries to do both to mixed results. The components are certainly there with stellar cast and a versatile debuting director. Even the story, while perhaps too familiar, is unique enough to stand out on its own. Unfortunately, a rushed third act leaves what could have been an engrossing dark fairy tale missing its happily ever after.
Links : IMDB
Wildling is available on VOD on April 13th, 2018
Emma Roberts Shines in the Feminist Fantasy ‘Paradise Hills’
Genre : Scifi-Fantasy
Rating : Unrated
Director: Alice Waddington
In the not-so-distant future the rebellious Uma (Emma Roberts) suddenly finds herself on an isolated island known as Paradise. Part reform school and part conversion therapy Paradise is a re-education camp run by the The Duchess (Milla Jovovich) and her all-male staff. Greeting Uma as she wakes are her roommates, the overweight Chloe (Patty Cake$‘s Danielle Macdonald) and metalhead Yu (Awkwafina). With her friends by her side she is forced into several different regiments ranging from make overs and yoga to “mirror therapy” with The Duchess and brainwashing sessions meant to turn Uma into the kind of subservient wife her mother and her rich suitor dream of. Things seem bleak for Uma and her companions until they get to know Amarna (Baby Driver‘s Eiza Gonzalez). Sent to Paradise for her lesbian tendencies she has concocted a plan to escape.
Perhaps the most noticeable part of Paradise Hills is how absolutely gorgeous it is. Opening to a lavish reception for newlyweds Uma and sleazy socialite Son (Arnaud Valois) you are immediately sucked in by its mix of tradition and opulence as revelers twirl around Uma with streams of white chiffon creating abstract shots as beautiful as a painting. All of which is topped when Uma reaches Paradise. With obvious inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and 1960’s television show The Prisoner it’s pastel flowers and deep primary colors are able to make the film look idyllic without ever really losing that bit of magic. Even as trouble begins to rear its head you can’t help but marvel at Waddington and production designer Laia Colet were able to do on their limited budget. As much as Paradise Hills excels visually its story can feel lacking at times.
With writing duties handled by author Brian DeLeeuw (Some Kind of Hate) and Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal, Time Crimes) high expectations are to be expected. Vigalondo in particular has done a great job playing with sci-fi tropes in films such as Colossal. Instead what get is a pretty thin science fiction tale. Vaguely mentioning a class system and insight any attempts at commentary are brief. For the most part it follows a cliché-ridden story more appropriate for a YA novel than some of the more imaginative minds in genre film today with most of the story being fairly underwritten. Our world lacking any detail with hints like why The Duchess runs Paradise or the background of Uma’s new friends being vague and quickly glossed over. Instead most of the focus is on Uma who follows the same heroes journey we’ve seen a thousand times over.
Despite being given a role Emma Roberts could sleepwalk through she does an admirable job as Uma. Her evolution from rebellious prisoner to the leader of a prison escape never feeling forced thanks to her relationship with Amarna. Bonding over their need to break free of Paradise their companionship builds naturally with any hints of Amarna’s romantic tendencies never feeling too exploitative with their sisterhood taking a much bigger role. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of Chloe and Yu. Despite being brought to life by the always good Danielle Macdonald, Chloe never really rises above playing supportive friend before blending into the background. Yu is given more to do but not much. Sent to the island by her family for anti-social tendencies before moving to mainland China. Whether intended or not it could have been a particularly poignant role had a the always game Awkwafina been given more screen time.
There’s no denying how beautiful Paradise Hills is. Showing herself to be a real visionary director Alice Waddington and production designer Laia Colet use a mix of Elizabethan glamour and futuristic technology to create a gorgeous world that looks unlike anything in movies today. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the story which feels like it came from the YA novel starter pack. With a story carried by some great performances Paradise Hills ends up being an engrossing, if somewhat hollow, experience.
Links : IMDB
Paradise Hills is now in theaters and on VOD
Bloodshot | Official Trailer -HD
Action, Drama, Fantasy
February 21, 2020 (Post Production)
Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzálaz, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris
After he and his wife are murdered, marine Ray Garrison is resurrected by a team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, biotech killing machine – Bloodshot. As Ray first trains with fellow super-soldiers, he cannot recall anything from his former life. But when his memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility to get revenge, only to discover that there’s more to the conspiracy than he thought.
Harmony: Despite All Its Vagueness, This Film Isn’t That Bad
Even in love, there’s fear.
You can’t have one
without the other.
Do you know that feeling when you drove with your bike somewhere, look surprised at a road map and realize you don’t have any idea where you were? Or that time when you were looking at the blackboard in disbelief, while the professor wrote down a mathematical theorem? I also had that surprised, open-mouthed, slightly panicking look when watching “Harmony“. This Australian film (with Australian actors who did their best to hide that well-known accent) is now really the vaguest of all the films I’ve seen so far. Somewhere deep inside there might be something original in it. But it really didn’t seem to want to rise to the surface.
A confusing movie.
After an hour I still didn’t understand what was going on with Harmony (Jessica Falkholt). And her relationship with Mason (Jerome Meyer) and Jimmy (Eamon Farren) remained a complete mystery to me. The denouement was again kind of obvious. And of course, you get once more such a typical ending that affords room for several follow-up films. Apparently, that’s been the idea all along. They were planning to create a 5-part saga of which this film “Harmony” is the first chapter. Unfortunately, the lead actress Jessica Falkholt died in a car accident before the movie premiered. And preparing follow-up stories without this character may be problematic. Or they are devoting the following four sequels to the other 4 newborns, each of whom has their own specific, special power.
It’s all a bit too vague.
Perhaps that was the most positive thing about the entire film. The gift of Harmony to remove negative feelings and fears from random people, sounds rather intriguing . A not so pleasant experience for Harmony. The inherited burden causes both psychological and physical pain. The only way for Harmony to free herself from this burden is to take a shower after which these negative feelings run away like black ink.
How come she’s blessed with this power? Does it have to do with the death of her mother during birth? And what is her motive for wandering through dark streets at night and saving hopelessly lost souls? Who’s the woman who takes care of neglected animals? How does she know that Harmony should use her gift on as many people in need as possible? And does she know the others who also have a certain power? It’s all a bit too vague. I suppose when the sequels are made, it will all become a bit clearer.
More question marks.
Film technically, the film looks flawless. The gray and dark images fit wonderfully with Harmony’s character. Her appearance, a goth-like young girl in black, also reinforces this depressing feeling. Jimmy, the rebellious punk who treats others like dirt, is also such a dark figure. Why he shows an interest in Harmony and at the same time radiates a kind of hate is again vague. Mason, on the other hand, is a real “jump for joy” guy. His colorful outfit and innocent, naive and weird behavior ensure the bright, happy moments. Also here it isn’t clear why Harmony continues to function flawlessly in his presence. Is Mason an insensitive and numb person? Does he go through life without fear or negative feelings? Does he have a mental disorder that makes him appear eccentric? Well, again I haven’t the faintest idea.
The story itself wasn’t in harmony with the rest.
Perhaps a few missing puzzle pieces are necessary, so we understand this idiosyncratic film a bit better. As you’ve read, everything remains fairly vague and incomprehensible. All in all, despite all its vagueness, this film isn’t that bad. The acting is of an acceptable level and the way in which everything was portrayed also has its charms. The film also fits the image of our current society perfectly. A society where fear plays a major role nowadays. And I’m sure that many teenage girls will be enthusiast about the romantic part of the film. On a narrative level, I thought it was inadequate. Too many question marks and blanks. In short, the story itself wasn’t in harmony with the rest.
My rating 5/10
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