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Who’s watching Oliver (2017)

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Who’s watching Oliver” will certainly not be appreciated by everyone. It’s a film about voyeurism, sadism and total insanity. At first sight, the film seems meaningless in terms of content. But as the film progresses, you’ll conclude it contains a more pronounced message. The moment Oliver (Russell Geoffrey Banks) begins to abuse and torture a girl like a madman, under the watchful eye of his authoritarian mother (Margaret Roche), who’s watching the whole show via a webcam, you assume that this is the umpteenth morbid torture film. But as soon as the handsome Sophia (Sara Malakul Lane) comes into the picture, the storyline tilts slightly. From that moment on it is no longer the Oliver who has to tolerate the whims of his mother, routinely take his two pills and goes off to search his next victim. No. Now he’s the Oliver who realizes that there may be a way out of this violent existence.

Now that’s what I call crazy …

Is “Who’s watching Oliver” an excellent film? Well, I wouldn’t say that. But it’s a damn shocking and confusing film. Needless to say that I found the acting performance of Russell Geoffrey Banks sublime. The way he portrays Oliver is magisterial. That foolish expression on his face with his protruding lower jaw and crooked teeth. His silly glasses and backward combed greasy hair. The retarded mumbling and the in-mouth muttering. All this makes him look like a mentally disturbed individual. And the moment he bursts out laughing is both touching and frightening at the same time. The laughter of a fool or a schizophrenic madman. It’s also obvious that Oliver’s condition is directly related to his mother because she’s on the same level. Also a totally insane woman. Even though we see Margaret Roche only on a monitor. The way in which she addresses the victims in a denigrating way and laughs with them felt outright diabolical. And the moment you find out what happened to her husband, you realize just how crazy this woman is.

What does a fine looking girl like Sophia see in that nerd ?

And then you have the naïve and angelic Sophia who spontaneously seeks contact with Oliver in the amusement park. A place where Oliver comes to rest on a daily base. In retrospect, she’s just another restless soul who’s seeking comfort. It’s not that you get a pronounced explanation about her past. But between the lines, you can assume that she also knew a past full of abuse and grief. Why Sophia approached him, ultimately remained a mystery to me. The final scene provides a variety of interpretations. Will Oliver escape from the grip of his mother at that moment? Or did he find his “partner in crime”? Your guess is as good as mine.

A slasher film with a brilliant twist.

And there are more of those ambiguities. Why is Oliver wandering around in Thailand? And where does all that money to lure girls to his room come from? “Who’s watching Oliver” is such a film where you as a viewer can’t predict which direction it’ll go. But if you leave out the explicit nude and bloody scenes, a fragile love story remains. But in a bizarre way. Everything feels rather absurd. Especially with that cheerful jazzy music playing while Oliver chopping up the dead bodies. And the daily trip to the amusement park in this Asian country emphasizes the absurdity of the whole. For those who love slasher films with a psychopathic character whose ruthless behavior causes bloody situations, this is definitely a must see. But this flick gives it a brilliant twist as well. Therefore it’s no surprise this film has already won some rewards at a few film festivals.

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

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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Big Legend – Is This Just Another Film About The Legendary Sasquatch..?

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I don’t believe in fairy tales.

Another film about the legendary Sasquatch, better known as Bigfoot. A few months ago I saw the film “Primal Rage” which I really could appreciate despite the low budget. And that because of the tension and the scarce moments of gore that were incorporated in it. In the movie “Big Legend” you have to deal with the same horrible monster, but unfortunately, that’s the only similarity with the previous movie. The film is long-winded and boring at certain times. And it’s not bloody at all. Something you should expect in a monster movie with an extremely powerful, hairy creature. A creature that tears off limbs and effortlessly slides vehicles in front of it. Not that “Big Legend” was torture to watch, but I still had to make an effort to keep my attention. And I always felt the urge to scroll on my tablet for something interesting to read. Not a good sign.

 

Big Legend

First happy and then his girlfriend disappears.

Although, it didn’t start too badly. We see Tyler (Kevin Makely) and Natalie (Summer Spiro) hiking through an idyllic looking landscape. It provides some unbelievably beautiful images. It’s a peaceful scene with two lovers who unquestionably love each other passionately. And then our friend Tyler also came up with the plan to ask his loved one to marrie him. Can it be even sweeter? Well, life has certainly been good to Tyler. Until his fiancée is dragged into the forest with their tent and the rest of the stuff, while her future husband is exploring the surrounding because of some suspicious noises. Well, Tyler ends up in a psychiatric institute after the disappearing of Natalie. And when he’s released, the only thing he can think of is to return to the scene to see if he can find his missing girlfriend again. But your gut’s scream at you he better had stayed sitting by his fireplace.

 

Big Legend

 

I truly hate the word “chief” from now on.

Not because a giant furry ape is going to make life miserable for him (Isn’t that the initial subject of this film?). But mainly because he runs into a colorful figure who would drive me completely crazy instantly. If I had received a Euro every time Eli (Todd A. Robinson) says the word “chief”, I could quietly retire. I expected Tyler to aim his automatic rifle at this forest runner after a while, instead of the still-to-be-spotted monster. Moreover. Eli has been in these forests for a long time already, hoping for that moment to see the legend. And yet he never saw it. Apparently, there are some primitive symbols placed here and there (by the Chinook) in the forest that somehow define a boundary the creature won’t pass. The fact that Eli never went beyond this symbolic border could be an explanation. However, afterwards, it appears that the symbols are damaged in certain places. A bit weird. And really confusing. But there are more of those bizarre and nonsensical facts.

 

Big Legend

 

5 Seconds and he saw the strange shadow.

The police dropped a box full of possessions of the missing Natalie at Tyler’s place. Tyler starts to look through it all and scrolls through the photos Natalie has taken during their trip. And would you believe it? Suddenly he discovers a photo with a suspicious shadow in the background. Now, or the police are doing an extremely poor job in that part of America. Or they have not even bothered to view the device. Except for Tyler, who discovers it within 5 seconds. And wouldn’t you call the authorities after your pick-up is being twirled around at night while sleeping in it and you discover a huge footprint in a muddy puddle? And who the hell hung up the signs with “No trespassing”? Bigfoot itself? And hasn’t Tyler been an Army Ranger for 12 years? Well, then he has forgotten many of his army instincts. Not only did he lose his backpack at a certain moment. The next moment he even leaves a water bottle behind. Not very smart I thought.

 

Big Legend

 

I’ll skip a possible sequel for sure.

I wasn’t really impressed by this film. Even though the scenery is wonderfully beautiful and everything has been reasonably portrayed, it failed in other areas. The acting was so-so. At certain times it wasn’t too bad. Next moment it feels amateurish. Perhaps also because I found the character Eli highly annoying. They also remained rather vague about the background of the two main characters. The most positive thing was Bigfoot looked like. In any case, better than the hairy beast from “Primal Rage“. It seemed more realistic and threatening, even though it’s mostly not explicitly shown. The biggest annoyances for me was the fact that this movie brings nothing new, has an unsatisfactory ending and ends with a hospital scene that shows that a possible follow-up could be made. Most likely I won’t have much trouble skipping that one. Be sure of that, Chief!

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

 

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HORROR

Don’t Let Go | Official Trailer – HD

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Rating:

N/A

Genre:

Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Release Date:

August 30, 2019

Director:

Jacob Estes

Cast:

Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, David Oyelowo, Byron Mann, Shinelle Azoroh, Omar Leyva, Daniel R. Lawson

Plot Summary:

After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not.

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