Deadpool (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Deadpool (2016)


I never wanted to see Deadpool. 

I detested pretty much well everything that Rob Liefeld, comic ‘creator’ and ‘artist’ did to my favourite comic, which I had been collecting since issue 1, Marvel Comics’ brilliant The New Mutants, and every time I saw one of his new characters, I rolled my eyes at the crudely drawn, horrible characters. The New Mutants was a companion comic to The Uncanny X-Men that started in the early eighties and told of Professor X’s attempt to relaunch his school for super powered kids.

Deadpool was amongst those characters that helped execute it and I pretty much well ignored him until around 2004 when I was attracted to the art in a comic called Cable & Deadpool. I enjoyed that comic’s irreverent humour, but when it folded I didn’t actively pursue either character, so Deadpool and I drifted apart again.

I do however enjoy the X-Men movies, and if I’m completely honest, I loved Ryan Reynold’s portrayal of the character in the dreadful X-men Origins: Wolverine film, but mainly because they completely screwed him up, and I hoped that he would be retro-fitted out of the Marvel comic universe…

However, I must eat a large slice of humble pie as I just watched the film Deadpool… and loved it. The film is the first feature film from visual effects designer, now director Tim Miller from a script by Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick (both from Zombieland, which explains a lot about the comedy in this), from comic ideas from Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld.

Deadpool tells of ex-special ops guy Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) who now earns money as a mercenary, with the occasional good will job. He meets and falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and things seem to all be great until one night he passes out, and they discover he’s suffering from multiple cancers.

After some research he decides to take up an offer he’s received to have his cancer cured by having an artificial mutant gene introduced to his body by a man named Ajax (Ed Skrein), but what he doesn’t realise is, Ajax sells the mutated people as weapons.

Wilson is a giant smartarse, and takes great delight in teasing Ajax, who in turn tortures him as a petty revenge. The operation is successful and his body now has a healing factor akin to Wolverine’s, but it does have some cosmetic side effects… And perhaps fractured his mind.

So with his help from the X-men Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kepipic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Wilson becomes Deadpool, and seeks Ajax and his men out so he can reap bloody revenge…

This film is one of the most entertaining comic films I have ever seen, with perfect comedy timing and an element of violence not before seen in a mainstream Marvel character’s film. The cast is bang on with their performance and the choreography of the violence is catastrophic and awesome.

I must say that being a comic fan is of great benefit to watchers of this film, as is knowing that there have been other comic films around helps as there are references to everything from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, the previous cinematic appearance of Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds not-entirely successful turn as Green Lantern. It’s not essential though, but your experience is certainly enhanced by it. This is possibly one of the endearing things about this film: it is self-referential, it regularly breaks the fourth wall and enjoys the fact that it KNOWS it can’t be taken 100% seriously… Because you know, basically the concept of superheroes is one that is hard to take seriously.

The film also doesn’t stop at any point for a breather. From the beginning of this built-like-Pulp-Fiction movie, if you aren’t cringing at the hyper violence, you are laughing at the constant barrage of filth coming from the main characters, or perhaps are admiring the hot naked girls in the strip club, or wondering how they got away with the sex scene. The best idea anyone ever had about this film was to make it for adults: innuendo does NOT exist in Deadpool’s world.

Also, Stan Lee’s appearance, and I won’t spoil it here, was certainly different from any he’s done so far!

If I have to really dig deep into my hyper-critical reviewer pockets to pick on this film, but I did and I have. Very occasional there are some dodgy CGI physics, and the character Colossus is SO obviously an effect… I mean, he’s a giant walking metal mutant, by the just never felt like he was not completely present physically in the film, like when Jerry the mouse (from Tom and Jerry) danced with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh: most special effects take an element of deliberate ignorance by our brains to be effective, but I just never found him visually effective. Luckily his Boy Scout persona made that easier to overlook as he is Deadpool’s perfect straight man.

I am however being extraordinarily picky in this case as I liked the film so much and am just attempting to find some thing to take this film to task on.

The film is just so damn violent, so damn funny and so damn fun it’s like a traditional superhero film, but made by the guys who did The Story of Ricky with the script writer from Superbad. It’s hilariously violent, and violently hilarious. I think this 20th Century Fox production will open the eyes of other companies, including Marvel themselves, making superhero movies, and if the trailers to Warner Bros/ DC’s Suicide Squad are anything to go by, maybe they have…

Score: ****1/2

Format: This review was done with the Australian, region B, bluray (steelbook) edition, which runs for approximately 108 minutes, with a 2.40:1 image and a DTS-HD 7.1 audio, both of which are perfect. The package also comes with a digital download of the film.

Score: *****


Deleted Scenes with or without commentary by the director: The Raft, Cancer World Tour, , Extended Workshop Fight, Morgue, 5 Year Montage, No. 5 Bathroom, Extended Angel/ NTW Fight, Extended Rubble/ Gratuitous Worth It and Alt Coda. Some of these deleted and extended bits have unfinished CGI elements, but the lover of the making of films finds this interesting. Watching with Ritter’s commentary is quite informative as well.

I love me a good Gag Reel and this is excellent, a hoot and a holler, with heaps of dialogue freestyling from some of the cast.

From Comics to Screen… to Screen is a series of making-of mini docs including Origin…ier, Peoples and Muties, Stylin’, ‘Splosions and Magic! Watched from start to finish, these docos cover everything to do with the production of this film, and it’s entertaining as well.

We have Two Audio Commentaries on this disc too, one by Reynolds, Reese and Wernick and the other by Miller and Liefeld. Both commentaries tell of different processes and have different tales to tell of the production of the film, but both are heaps of fun and very informative.

There is a series of galleries for Concept Art, Costumes, Storyboards, Pre-vis and Stunt-Vis – Shipyard. Normally I hate stills galleries but this is a money saver as I won’t have to buy the expensive no-doubt-impending ‘Art of Deadpool’ hardcover book because all the images are here.

Deadpool’s Fun Sack is all the worldwide advertising for the film. It contains all the trailers and interstitials and a whole of bunch of posters.

Score: *****

WISIA: I’m already seeing it again. Nuff said!

The VVitch (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Witch (2015)

Film: My journey to see this film is an unusual one. I heard a single track of Mark Korvan’s amazing score, I can’t remember where (it was possibly on the soundtrack-centric, and well worth listening to podcast The Damn Fine Cast) and had to grab the entire soundtrack, on vinyl of course!

Korvan uses a bizarre mix of instruments, including the waterphone and the hurdy-gurdy, to create this soundscape that is bizarre and horrifying, but more importantly, intriguing. As soon as this was released on bluray, I was at my local retailer, eftPOS card at the ready!

Was I disappointed? Not at all!

Set in the early 1600s in New England, The Witch tells of a family who are kicked out of a walled town due to their religious practices differing from the rest of the town. They travel a day by horse and cart away from the town and set up a small farm just outside a large ominous forest.

The eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing with the youngest child, a baby when it is snatched by something from right under her nose… literally. Her father, William (Ralph Ineson) and mother, Katherine (Kate Dickie) tell her and the other children, Caleb (Harvey Grimshaw) and twins Mercy (Ellie Granger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) to stay away from the forest.

The isolation and the pain of the missing child start to form cracks in the family’s relationships, and when Caleb disappears, accusation of witch-hood start flying, but is the threat from within the family, or if there really something evil in the woods?

Immediately I have to compliment this film on its visuals. It feels ‘wet’ to watch, and there is this amazing, cloying, claustrophobic feeling throughout the whole film, and that’s an emotional claustrophobia as well!

The acting is all top shelf, which is a great feat considering almost half the cast are young children (I don’t count the baby as one of them, I mean, the actor just played a baby… I hope they don’t get typecast!) and they had to contend with goats, which aren’t the most compliant of animals to have in a film. Also the whole film is performed in Ye Olde English, which takes a few minutes to acclimatise to, but once you get it, you completely understand.

Writer/director Robert Eggars has created a complex film with a very deliberate pacing that is visually beautiful, audibly disturbing (with the aforementioned Korvan’s score) and leaves the viewer relieved with its freeing resolve after spending 90 minutes with a family whose religion and lifestyle is so oppressive.

Score: ***1/2

Format: The review copy was an Australian, region B bluray which also comes with an Ultraviolet copy. The film is presented in a quite beautiful 1.66:1 widescreen with an amazing DTS-HS Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: Unfortunately, none.

Score: 0

WISIA: This is a visually beautiful, complex, repeat watcher if there ever was one.

The Forest (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Forest (2016)

Film: I’m no fan of the cinematic ghost story, mainly due to the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts, so unfortunately with no threat, comes no horror.

That’s not to say that stupid jump scares don’t momentarily frighten me, it’s just the idea of impending doom coming from spiritual vengeance holds nothing over me.

My family, however, love a good (or bad) ghost story so I do on occasion find myself stuck in a darkened cinema being insulted by a Paranormal Activity or a Conjuring or one of their kin.

So why did I end up watching something that on the surface has all the hallmarks of a bad western remake of a j-horror classic? Well, that answer can be summed up in two words.

Natalie. Dormer.

Yep. Call me base. Call me sexist, but that is the sole reason why I wanted to see this film. The weird thing is, I haven’t actually seem her in anything else’ I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I never watched the Tudors and the only Hunger Games films I haven’t seen are the final two…which happen to be the ones she’s in!

Heck, I didn’t even know she was from the UK until I heard her real speaking voice in the sole extra on this disc.

I’d only ever seen images of her in magazines or the Internet, and have been fascinated by her half-smirk feline look…they should make her Ben Affleck’s Catwoman in the new DC cinematic universe… So when I saw her name appear as a cast member of a horror film, I decided to give it a go, even though normally I wouldn’t touch something like this with the pointy end of a P.K.E. meter.

Anyway, The Forest tells of Sara (Dormer) who has been informed by the Japanese police that her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) is dead. The police don’t actually have a body, but she went alone into the Aokigahara Forest, which is known for two things: legends of ghosts and demons inhabiting it, and the large amount of suicides that coincidently take place there.

So Sara goes to Japan to search for her sister and quickly learns of the local legends that the forest is haunted by yūrei, demons of the forest. At her hotel, she meets a travel journalist Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who offers to introduce her to a local guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa). Michi goes into the forest to look for bodies so he can report them to the police.

The three set off and they find one body, which he makes a note of and then a tent. He informs Sara and Aiden that people who take a tent into the forest are usual not sure about committing suicide, and he acts as somewhat of a councillor to them as well.

Towards the end of the day, the three find Jess’s tent. Sara insists on staying overnight even though Michi insists she doesn’t. Aiden offers to stay with her, but after a while she gets the idea that maybe Aiden had something to do with Jess’s disappearance…

Did he, or are the yūrei, ghosts of the forest, attempting to deceive her… If they even exist, that is…

Unfortunately this film never really stood a chance. The direction is ok, and director Jason Zada has created a wonderfully cold environment. The actors are mostly fine, though not much has been given to Dormer to really differentiate Sara and Jess from each other other than hair dye, and Kinney’s portrayal of Aiden can be somewhat pedestrian at times.

The problem with this film lies in how damned generic it is.

Several years ago, j-horror was huge, and quickly after that, the American’s started remaking every single one of them. Soon the entire horror market was flooded with this sub genre of films where’s blonde female American (usually TV) star would be terrorised by a little black haired ghost girl… Usually set in Japan so the whole stranger-in-a-strange-land alienation angle could be played to its fullest.

I thought those days were gone, but apparently the writers of this film, Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai, have decided they are still with us, and every single stereotypical beat made within those films is back with vengeance. Japanese schoolgirls, flickering lights, old white haired Japanese women appearing out of the darkness, the whole nine yards.

It’s for this reason that I just can’t think too highly of this film. I believe you could almost sit down with a checklist of supernatural j-horror impersonator tropes and tick every single one as you watched the film. At no time do I feel like I am seeing a new movie, rather a highlight reel from 10 years ago.

Score: *1/2

Format: The review copy of The Forest was presented on a multi-region Australian release bluray. The image is presented in an amazingly crisp 1.85:1 widescreen with a perfect, and moody DTS-HD 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: Stupidly, there is only one extra on this disc and that’s something called Exploring the Forest which basically takes everything you want to know about this place, mixes it with the making of the movie and compresses it to barely 7 minutes. The idea of the REAL forest is so fascinating you could have done a 90 minute doco just about that, but no… At least it’s not a stills gallery!

Score: **

WISIA: Like I said before, I’m not really a ghost story fan, and it’s difficult to want to rewatch something that is so generic. Even Dormer can’t help with that!

The Final Girls (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Final Girls (2015)

Film: For me, horror and comedy rarely mix well. Reanimator is an exception, Return of the Living Dead is another that works; generally though, the ‘horror comedy’ is actually a comedy movie with gore elements.

This film, The Final Girls, falls into the latter: it’s little more than a comedy film with slasher film aspirations in it, as one can tell by the cast inclusion of people like Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley and Adam DeVine from Workaholics, but for fans of 80s horror films, there is a lot here to like as it is a combination of the Friday the 13th series and Pleasantville.

Yeah. You read that right.

The Final Girls tells of Maxine Cartwright (Taissa Farmiga) a college student whose mother, an 80s horror movie star, Amanda (Malin Ackerman) died tragically three years ago. Today though, Max has been asked to represent her mother at a film festival where the slasher film her mother was in, Camp Bloodbath and its sequel, Camp Bloodbath II: Cruel Summer are being shown back to back. 

Max is joined by her best friend, Gertie (Alia Shawkat), Gertie’s step-brother (who also organised the film festival) Duncan (Middleditch), her potential love-interest Chris (Alexander Ludwig) and Chris ex (and Max’s ex-best friend), Vicki (Nina Dobrev) to see the film, but the cinema is accidentally set alight, and to escape, the group have to cut their way through the actual movie screen to escape…

…which transports them INTO the movie, and finds Max reunited with her mother, but it’s not her mother, it’s the character she played in the film, Nancy. 

The group realise that they are trapped not just with the badly written characters (played by Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Lauren Gros and Tory N. Thompson) but that the killer, Billy (Dan B. Norris) is well aware that he has more victims than usual… But how will they escape?

CAN they escape?!?

The tropes of horror films are treated with great humour in this film, and aren’t disrespected. There is some great physical comedy as well, and any scene with Middleditch or DeVine are lots of fun. The ‘real’ characters stand out brilliantly in the world of the 80s horror movie fantastically as the ‘bad actors’ as ‘real’ people still act like they do in the film.

That’s not to say the film is perfect though; there are a few cases of CGI that doesn’t quite work (although there is one CGI piece that is amazing!) and it does something that I detest in modern horror movies: it adds popular pop songs for familiarity to make the film easier to acclimatise to… Guardians of the Galaxy did it to sell itself and did a great job of it, but I don’t like that kind of psychological manipulation. I do admit to understanding both films had a grounding in the 80s so it’s not completely left-of-field, but I still find it manipulative.

The story of this film is heaps of fun for those who grew up with 80s slasher pics, or are fans of that genre. The director clearly loves this period of films, and, along with his cinematographer has created a film that is a joy to look at. The colours are vibrant and engaging, and if you watch… REALLY watch the film, you see heaps of great little clues and movie language that tells a far more clever story that a casual view might suggest.

Don’t be surprised though, this is 100% a comedy with a polite nod to horror films of the 80s. If you want a horror film, this ain’t it, but if you want to be entertained for a bit, this isn’t a bad way to do it.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This Australian release, multi-region bluray of The Final Girls runs for 91 minutes and is presented in a pristine 2.40:1 widescreen presentation with a matching DTS HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: Nice bunch of extras on this disc including a cast and crew commentary performed by Strauss-Schulson, actors Middleditch, Farmiga and Trimbur, Production designer Katie Byron and Dirctor of Photography Elie Smilkin, a bunch of deleted, alternate and extended scenes with or without the director’s commentary (they are better with the commentary and have some unfinished special effects), Pre-Vis Animation (storyboards done with rough computer models), visual effects progression reel (shows layered footage of the special effects from the earliest pass to the final one) and a downloadable PDF of the Director’s shooting notes (unreviewed).

It’s a great and informative bunch of extras, though the commentary is a bit crowded with so many people involved… It is pretty funny though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s an easy to watch ‘comfort’ film that requires very little from the viewer to enjoy. I can see myself watching it again, but on a low priority rotation.

Doom – Xbox One – First Impressions

I love videogaming more than I care to share with others. I’m not very good at it, but I love everything about it: the challenges, the fun, the competitive online stuff, the art and design of it… Everything. I even entertained ideas of joining the industry and even did part of a college course to do it professionally, but the industry in Australia bottomed out and I quit the course.

Which is a shame cause MY game idea is pretty cool… well I think so.

The course did teach me a lot about game design though, and I believe I have become a more competent gamer because of it. 

My favourite games are First Person Shooters, or FPS’s and I have been playing them since Doom first came out all those years ago, and I’ve played many since on many different systems, of various degrees of entertainment value: Goldeneye 64, Lifeforce Tenka, various Halos, Fallout 3 and 4, Castle Wolfenstein, Dead Island, all the Call of Duty’s since Modern Warfare 3 and all the Battlefields’ since 2.

That’s not all of them, and yes, I don’t know why I can’t seem to get any better either.

At last year’s E3, Bethesda announced the return of Doom, and from the footage I saw, I was pretty freaking excited. I couldn’t wait to return to the world of guns and chainsaws versus demons in the Doom environment.

So yesterday I grabbed it and loaded it up, but as I’m used to Call of Duty excessive updates on release, I left it to load only to discover it loaded in no time at all, but I was doing other stuff for this very site, so I forced myself to wait until today, and climbed out of bed at 4am to kill some demons…

…and kill demons, I did!

The fighting starts immediately as killing takes place over any storyline the campaign may have to offer. There is a story about you, a person who has awoken on Mars, chained to an altar where Dr Olivia Pierce has, using bizarre rituals, appeared to have opened the gates of Hell. Will you, in your nifty Praetor suit, be able to kill all the demons and stop Hell making it’s permanent home on Mars?

Let’s home so, for Matt Damon’s sake!

So my impressions so far are this: the game itself is kickass fun and non stop: as long as an area still has demons in it, you are frantically going through the motions of killing and collecting health and ammo, but it’s never a grind like Destiny tends to be sometimes… Actually, ALL the time. The level design is beautifully done, and easy to navigate, especially with the accessible 3D map, and there so much to see that you’ll never get bored with what the devs and designers have done with the look of the game, which is ever varying tones of the dusty, sandy redness of Mars, mixed with the scaffolding and technology of mankind. It’s Richard Stanley’s Hardware with demons instead of robots!

The game is quite simple, if it is moving, shoot it or hit it or chainsaw it until it is dead, and some of the deaths, particularly the ‘Glory Kills’ (hand to hand kills that are like Mortal Kombat’s finishing moves) have to be seen to be believed… These are Evil Dead 2 styled kills!! The skill tree is also easy to navigate, and the new abilities for weapons make them… Is ‘funner’ a word?

Now for me the core to FPSing is the multiplayer experience. I dig the campaigns but executing my fellow man online is where my passion lies. I have been a regular on the Battlefield and served a couple of clans on the Call of Duty servers since Black Ops 2 and really looked forward to the online element of Doom, but alas, after waiting for 20 minutes for a game, no luck. During that time though I did modify my online dude to look to my specifications, which is always a fun element to add to an online gaming environment!

So all in all, so far I’m loving Doom, and hopefully will be able to report back on the online experience soon. If you like non-complicated FPS’s, Doom’s for you.

In 5 words or less: get your ass to Mars!

Note: I apologise for the lack of pictures of demons in this piece. The reason is two fold: one, I didn’t want to spoil some of the awesome designs of the monsters and two, the action is so frantic I didn’t get an opportunity to even think of getting a pic until the action was over!

Goodnight Mommy aka Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014) Review

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there, and heres one from the to watch pile…
Goodnight Mommy aka Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014)

Film: This is one of those films that I heard a lot about but never thought I’d see. Several of the podcasts I listen to talked it up and I have read many reviews that admired it too, but what do you know; the good people at Áccent Film here in Australia have released it!

This is an Austrian film, written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz so it is performed in German with subtitles, but in this case, if you don’t like subtitled movies, it is hardly intrusive as the film is not dialogue heavy: actions certainly speak louder than words in this case.

Goodnight Mommy tells the tale of young twin boys Elias and Lukas (played by Lukas and Elias Schwarz), who have been moved from Vienna to the country by their newly separated mother (Susanne Wuest), whom soon after decides to have some plastic surgery done on her face.

We, the viewer, never see mother before the operation, but the boys have a firm belief that she is not the same woman, and in actual fact another person has replaced her under the guise of having a facelift as her entire attitude towards the boys has completely changed: she is far more aggressive, and refuses to even acknowledge one of the boys over a previous transgression.

So the boys have to decide if this is their mother, and if not, what should they do about it…

This is quite an amazing film for several reasons.

The first is how compelling the story is. The directors manage to block out their scenes really well, and you start to notice clever ways the story is being told visually, with the obscuring if the mothers identity, and how elements of backstory are told not through flashbacks or exposition, but through such mundane incidental things like photo albums and a game of Celebrity Head (you know, you put a name on someone’s head and they have to get what the thing or person is). 

The second is the location. This amazingly beautiful modern country house that sits between the woods and a cornfield has this tangible personality of its own, and again, the direction and photography is bright and easy to absorb, which is juxtaposed nicely with the dark places the story takes us.

If I am to take this film to task at all, it’s with the acting. Wuest is amazing, and it is a difficult role for her as her face is obscured for most of the film, and as an actress, your face is your label,miso keeping it covered is a brave and admirable move. Unfortunately the twins, who get the most screen time, occasionally seem like they are waiting for direction. This isn’t a completely fair criticism though, as the nuances needed for their characters would be difficult for an experienced actor let alone boys who were maybe 11 or 12 years old.

Sometimes those slow burn, subtle films move me more than an action filled gorefest, and this is one. Beautifully shot and shocking, and the shock continues later when you think about the things that took place during the film… And what they REALLY mean.

Score: ****

Format: This is thevAustralian bluray release of Goodnight Mommy and it runs for approximately 99 minutes and is presented in a perfectly transferred 2.35:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 audio.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for The Conspiracy, Little Accidents, I’ll Follow You Down and Static. Other than the trailer for THIS film, that’s it!

Score: *

WISIA: It’s a great movie, for sure, but like a magician’s trick, once you know the secret, it loses its power. I probably will watch it once more to see if there is any nuances of the performances I may have missed out on. 

A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

Film: When a moronic, tryhard janitor accidentally starts the zombie apocalypse, only those skilled at survival even stand the slightest chance of getting by.

Thankfully, scouting offers one all the right tools and skills to make it!

Our tale follows the exploits of the only three members of scout troop 264: the keen and excitable Augie (Joey Morgan), motormouth Carter (Logan Miller) and nice guy Ben (Tye Sheridan) who after cutting short an overnight scout trip to go to a secret high school senior’s party find themselves in a town that empty except for zombies and a hot cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont) who is as tough as nails, has the longest legs in the history of mankind and is a shotgun diva… Literally. 

The kids at the secret party, including Carter’s sister (and Ben’s secret crush) Kendall (Halston Sage) don’t know what has happened to the rest of the town, and our heroes find themselves with a time limit to save the partygoers when they discover the entire town is going to be bombed by the military to contain the ‘zombie problem’. 

So what do scout’s do when they face the zombie apocalypse? Why improvise, of course… Let’s just hope that zombiefied Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner) doesn’t catch up with them…

In general I am not a fan of the term ‘horror comedy’ as I don’t believe the two elements sit together at all because I want my horror to be, well, horrible: I want to be scared by it… And realistically, whenever we talk about ‘horror comedies’ we are referring more to either a comedy with monsters, or a gore-comedy. Films like Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator and Shaun of the Dead nail both those descriptions perfectly, and I reckon I’d put this film in with those three comfortably, though it would certainly be the lesser of them, as whilst it appealed to my love of gory movies, it also tickled my less mature delight towards dumb, dick, tit and fart joke comedies.

Basically, if the Goonies grew up to be the kids from Superbad and had to fight Shaun of the Dead zombies in the town Monster Squad took place in, that contained a strip club that someone like Porky would own, this would be their story. 


It’s not very often that a film can be both laugh out loud at the comedy one second, and cringe with empathy at an act of violence the next. The writers, Lona Williams, Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki and director Christopher Landon (who also has a script credit) really nailed the balance well, and once it gets underway, the movie never stops for a breather. The four main actors nail their stereotypes perfectly, and parody them well too, but they are also well rounded characters, with back stories and histories that are touched on but never to the detriment or the movement of the story.

In the extras the crew regularly comment that they are trying to get that eighties teen sex comedy feel and that is done well, but the tributes to other horror are there also. The film takes Romero’s tropes of residual zombie memory and turns it on its head, and also nods to Dr Tongue from Day of the Dead (in a scene that echoes Reanimator’s head-giving-head scene, but with more tongue), and did I see a road sign showing how far away Haddonfield was?

I can’t finish this review without mentioning that the wonderful Cloris Leachman makes an appearance as a very cranky old cat lady and really steals the few scenes in which she appears.

Essentially, the sophomoric humour lover and gore hound in me really loved this film, and if you like films that don’t take themselves too seriously, you will probably get a kick out of this.

Score: ****

Format: The review copy of this film was the Australian bluray release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes, and is presented in an immaculate 2.39:1 image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: A nice bunch of extras on this disc, and with titles reminiscent of my Cub Scout days…

Scout’s Guide to Filmmaking is you normal ‘making of’ mini-doc but the personalities of the filmmakers and the cast make it quite entertaining. Sure there’s the usual mutual-masturbation ‘oh he/she’s SO good’ stuff, but it doesn’t come across as fake, they actually seem genuine.

The Zombie Make-up FX Handbook is all about the practical and CGI zombie effects. I love these sorts of extras as I’ve always had an interest in make up effects.

Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography takes a look at the work done by choreographer Mark Steger who taught the cast and extras how to ‘move’ like a ‘real’ zombie. His concepts of these zombies being quick because they are fresh, rather than the slow, disinterred old dead was interesting.

Uniforms and You: Costume Design shows us the skill of the costume designer Marylou Lim and the subtleties of some of the costuming, and how they individualised the zombies.

There’s only two Deleted Scenes: extended Scouting video and Pharmacy. They certainly aren’t missed in the film.

Score: ****

WISIA: A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a gory and funny movie with a lot of personality so I can definitely see me watching it again.

Cabin Fever (2016)

One from the to watch pile…
Cabin Fever (2016)

Film: OK, so I just want to start this review by pointing out what my opinion of remakes is: I have no problem with them at all. I don’t necessarily get angry or upset when a remake is announced, and I don’t think the remake diminishes the original in the slightest, if anything, it’s sequels that commit that crime more than remakes. Sure a lot have been terrible, but that reflects a remakes misinterpretation of the original’s intent more than anything else, and somethings they can even be entertaining.

My final word on remakes is without them, we wouldn’t have John Carpenter’s The Thing, Chuck Russell’s The Blob, De Toth’s House of Wax, Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors or Croenenberg’s The Fly!

Sure, I get 2005’s House of Wax and 2004’s Flight of the Phoenix are good example against remakes, but again, they don’t actually diminish the originals.

For some reason though, the space between an original film and its remake seems to be getting shorter, and I’m not talking about the j-horror to English versions either. In 2002, Eli Roth released his first film called Cabin Fever, and it was a gem. For some reason though, 13 years later, Roth decided that he would produce a remake of it… Why?

I imagine money, but that would be cynical, so I honestly don’t know. Seriously, why would someone who is one of us (a horror fan) who made it to Hollywood, managed to squeezed tributes to his favourite films in a film he made, based on a personal experience want to allow something he created to be remade when it was good the way it was?

This remake is directed by Travis Zariwny from a script by Randy Pearlstein, who realistically just dropped the original script by Eli Roth into a mixmaster and regurgitated it into what must have been thought of as a hard-hitting remake. Fede Alvarez did the same thing with his Evil Dead remake, but for me, that was a successful attempt at ‘nasty-ing’ up something that had a sense of humour, whereas this fails.

Anyway, Cabin Fever tells of five friends, Karen (Gage Golightly), Jeff (Matthew Daddario), Paul (Samuel Davis), Marcy (Nadine Crocker) and Bert (Dustin Ingram) who decide to go on a trip into the woods to stay in a beautiful lakeside cabin. One night, their fun is interrupted by a woodsman who is seemingly infected with a disease that, of course, quickly spreads to the group… But can they survive?

The answer in this case is, who cares?

The original had a sense of humour to it that it gone from this version and even though Roth’s comedy may be, somewhat sophomoric at time, it did at least give this film an identity that is absent from this. Speaking of losing identity, the three male leads are horrible photocopies of a type and don’t have any real characterisation of their own. At a push I’d suggest the two women in the film were the same, but at least they could be identified by ‘the brunette one’ or ‘the blond one’, which is really their only difference and makes them Easy to tell apart, well, until the blonde cop turns up, who thankfully has a scar which means she looks different from the other one.

Which brings me to another weird point: the cop has been changed from the goofy guy, to a really attractive blonde, but have given her the same dialogue, which is delivered slowly and with menacing music, so her intentions are cloudy. Does she just want to party with the kids, or is she suggesting that she has other intentions? 

There’s some terrible flaws in this film too, that the editors should have picked up on. The first sex scene, which is surprising hot initially, is reduced to being crappy once you notice that the guy has shorts on, which can be seen not once, but twice. Terrible, that sort of stuff takes me out of a film.

So why remake this film when it is so close to the original release? Who knows… But everyone: EVERYONE…. Crew, cast, viewer, we all wasted our time. If I am to shine any light onto it, it did have some nice gore, and the nipple-pierced nudity was a high point.

Score: **

Format: This Australian Bluray release of Cabin Fever runs at 1 hour and 38 minutes and is presented is a crystal clear 2.40:1 image with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack which also kicks arse. 

Score: *****

Extras: Not a damned thing… Not even scene selection. Nasty, lazy release. The angry-at-unnecessary-remakes-film-fan in me thinks that when you remake something, at the very least, you should have a small doco justifying or explaining why you think the film NEEDED a remake.

Score: 0

WISIA: I’ll probably just watch the original again.

The 5th Wave (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The 5th Wave (2015)

Film: The 5th Wave is a film based on the, to date, as yet unfinished teen-aimed trilogy written by Rick Yancey. The film’s screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman, Susanna Grant and Jeff Pinker, and directed by J Blakeson, who wrote The Descent Part 2 and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, which was also his directorial debut.

The 5th Wave tells the story of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her experiences during an invasion by an alien race who have obviously done their research on the planet. 

Cassie is just a normal school girl, living at home with her Mum (Maggie Siff), Dad (Ron Livingston) and brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) when an alien invasion happens and the family ends up separated. The parents meet an untimely demise, and the kids are separated. Sammy ends up with an army regiment who are training children to fight the aliens; here he meets up with Zombie (Nick Robinson), the leader of Squad 53 (and also ex-schoolmate of Cassie), Ringer (Maika Monroe, almost unrecognisable actor from It Follows) and others.

Meanwhile, Cassie is desperate to find her brother, and after being shot, is helped by Evan (Alex Roe), a farmer who seems to be a little more well trained than he should be. The two of them set off to find him, and soon find themselves involved with all sorts of trouble with Squad 53 and their fight against the alien incursion.

So, what’s it like? Well, it’s aimed directly at teenaged girls between 14 and 19, and whilst attempts to tell a hard hitting story, the elements to do with young romance, alienation and protection of one’s family that can be found in novels like the Twilight series and the Divergent series, water it down and ‘soap opera’ it far too much for it to be taken too seriously.

It does want to be taken seriously though, and there is very little levity (actually, after the invasion there is one moment of comedy that is more out of place than a Trekkie in a slave Leia bikini) and with the teen romance angle slipping in, it’s hard to do humour without losing credibility. The interesting thing though is it attempts to butch itself up by slipping in elements, and I kid you not, of Starship Troopers, and at a pinch, I’d suggest it may want to be Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.

As with all of these teen films, it is the first of a trilogy (although if history is anything to go by, the last film will be multiple parts in its attempt to tie up loose ends), so there is a distinct feeling of untied plot strings.

It does, however, present itself very well. The film looks fantastic, is entertaining and the cast are likeable enough, but any adult who has watched more than two ‘earth invasion’ films will not find much original here.

Score: ***

Format: A modern day film on a digital format looks as one would expect: pristine. This Australian multi-region release of the film runs for 1 hour and 52 minutes and is presented in 16:9 widescreen with a DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack. It also comes with a Digital Ultraviolet digital download. 

Score: *****

Extras: Big bunch of extras on this disc.

A commentary by Blakeson and Moretz who talk over each other a bit, but essentially provide a thorough film commentary experience.

Deleted scenes is what you would expect it would be. Nothing that will really be missed but there are a couple of set-ups that still have the pay-offs in the film, which never seemed out of place… Well, until now that I have seen the set-up. The real shame is Maria Bello’s cruel taskmaster didn’t end up getting some amazing scenes in the film.

There is a typical Gag Reel with amusing mistakes and hijinks.

Inside The 5th Wave is your typical, made-for-home-video making of piece. It’s not an intensive, in depth look at filmmaking, but some of the brief looks at behind the scenes stuff is pretty cool.

Training Squad 53 shows us how the young actors were trained to become Squad 53. It’s funny to watch young actors take on this sort of training as they really take to it as an adventure. 

The 5th Wave Survival Guide is a bunch of generic survival tips from the cast. This piece looks like an MTV interstitial or some such.

Sammy on the Set follows actor Zackary Arthur as he learns about filmmaking from the crew. It’s a nice easy to understand breakdown of what function each crew member performs on the set. If you have a young budding filmmaker in the family, this could be a good extra for them to watch.

Creating A New World is an special effects piece looking at the design of the slow degradation of the planet as the aliens start to pull everything apart, both from a CGI and practical effects point of view.

It says ‘Previews’ but it should say ‘Preview’ and it’s for the Angry Birds Movie, which is also how the disc opens, so…why?

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a well shot and engaging film, but is obviously aimed at a teen market, which means it’s longevity will be dubious. It’s really aimed at the Hunger Games/ Maze Runner fans, so it’s good entry level scifi if you are trying to get your 16 year old daughter to watch stuff from your movie collection, but as an adult, you probably won’t watch it twice.

The Visit (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Visit (2015)

Film: There are two things in modern horror of which I am not a great fan. The first is the so-called ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking. Whilst I appreciate the intention of making films that try to make one believe that they are a part of the universe in which the film exists, I don’t actually appreciate filmmakers using that as an excuse for first person filmmaking, which I find to be amateurish and distracting… Even if that is supposed to be the objective.

The second great unlikable is post-Sixth Sense films by M. Night Shyamalan. I mean no disrespect to the director, but after the stunning debut of The Sixth Sense, I feel he has never again reached those heights, and whilst his films look beautiful and have competent acting throughout, the stories have never thrilled me, and let’s face it, the crux of making cinema is telling a story. If you don’t have a ‘good’ story to tell, you have nothing.

Somehow though, and I suspect pan-dimensional travel, these two much maligned ideals have come together in a film which I totally enjoyed. To be honest, I watched this expecting to be able to do a ‘I hate this film so much’ review, but can’t, as I loved the damned thing!!

The Visit tells the story of teenage amateur filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her younger brother, try-hard rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) who are visiting their grandparents, from the mother’s (Kathryn Hahn) side, for the first time. The reason the kids have never met their grandparents is her mother is estranged from them after having a serious argument over her boyfriend whom they disapproved of her marrying, and she has never spoken with them since.

The marriage didn’t last however, and after the two kids were born he left, so it wasn’t long before the children began enquiring about their grandparents. Mum agrees to let them go visit on their own, and so our intrepid youngsters decide to make a documentary about meeting their grandparents for the first time.

This is where out ‘first person’ styled filmmaking comes in as the entire story is done from the point of view of the two cameras the children are using to film their documentary about meeting their estranged grandparents.

So the kids arrive in the small town and finally get to meet their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) and all feel an immediate affinity for each other and the kids are informed of only one rule: bedtime is 9.30pm.

Over the course of the next few days, and through the production of their documentary, the kids find that maybe their grandparents aren’t quite the nice and normal old folk that they seem to be, and things steadily get stranger… Especially after 9.30pm…

Quite simply, this film is brilliant. Shyamalan has perfectly cast the movie with actors that you may recognise, but they certainly aren’t big name stars. DeJonge and Oxenbould play the kids with just the right amount of ‘kidness’ in their wide-eyed view of the world but still with that touch of maturity that teens have. Oxenbould’s attempts at rapping are as perfect as they are as embarrassing from a 13 years old claiming to want a future as a rapper. 

The real highlight of the film is the performances of Nana and Pop Pop: at no time do you really know what’s going on with them, and the quirkiness of their nighttime shenanigans will freak you the HELL out, that’s for sure!

The story has an air of creepiness that pervades every element, which is extraordinarily clever as you really don’t know why, but again it comes from the fantastic performances by all involved. The grandparents AREN’T quite right… Or are they? Are the kids that are over analysing their behaviour, or is this just the way old people behave?

Unlike most Shyamalan’s films, the ending doesn’t come as a plot twist that will have you shocked, but instead is a natural progression of the story that makes perfect sense and doesn’t just seemingly come out of nowhere.

The device of the kids filming never becomes a distraction as there is always story being told, and the kids are engaging enough that you enjoy them on screen. Plus we all know know that hand held recording has come along way since the Blair Witch Project days!

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and really can’t recommend it highly enough… Even to those who have been bitten twice by ‘found footage’ and Shyamalan films.

Score: ****1/2

Format: A perfect looking region B bluray with no flaws, this film runs for 94 minutes and is presented in1.85:1 with a DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****


The Making of The Visit isn’t really a ‘making of’, but more a series of quotes from Shyamalan about why smaller movies are better, and how having a large budget corrupts filmmaking. It almost feels like he’s trying to convince us of why he has no A-Listers in the film, but I’m not sure why? Suffice it to say, none of the cast are interviewed and it’s really a vanity piece.

Deleted Scenes is a series of 10 short deleted scenes that wouldn’t have really added much to the film other than time, though a couple of them were a little creepy.

Alternate Ending is just that. It’s an interesting and heartfelt epilogue that may or may not have fitted the film; I can’t decide. It is a well acted piece though, and gives the underused Hahn an opportunity to really shine.

Becca’s Photos is a slideshow of picture the character has taken during her visit with her grandparents. I detest the waste of space on a moving image format of still images.

This bluray also comes with a digital ‘Ultraviolet’ download.

Score: **  

WISIA: I do like this movie but I am not sure if it has real repeat view value. Like of a lot these sorts of films though, upon a single rewatch, you do see some performance subtleties that mean something completely different after you have seen a film to the end.