The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Christopher Webster [Celluloid 10.04.09] movie review horror





You know it's getting close to Halloween when Sam Raimi's Ghost House Underground label unleashes a whole new wave of indie acquisitions on the horror community. Not sure why, after last year's run of eight titles, the label decided to release only four this year, but when the offerings are this fun who really cares, right?

As usual with these types of multi-film releases, we've just not got the time to give each of he flicks full reviews before they street, so this four piece mega-review will have to do.

Tuck into the horrors of The Thaw, The Children, Offspring and Seventh Moon after the break!


***

Title: The Thaw
Year: 2009
Director: Mark A. Lewis
Writer: Mark A. Lewis
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: Purchase
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Thaw is an effective little eco creature-feature from Canada. It's about a badass prehistoric parasite that gets re-introduced into the northern ecosystem after a woolly mammoth is thawed because of global warming. A group of isolated students must fight for survival yadda yadda yadda.

Yes the environmental message is strong throughout the entire film, but between truly top-notch creature fx, some genuinely tense (and gory) moments and a nifty twist ending, the film ended up being a nice surprise.



What made the Thaw a standout in the Ghost House Underground set for me though was that it's the only film presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and it looks breathtaking. The stark northern setting is beautifully lensed which gives the film a really classy feel.

Easily recommendable and not at all a rip off of The Thing like I know some readers feared.


***

Title: The Children
Year: 2009
Director: Tom Shankland
Writer: Tom Shankland / Paul Andrew Williams
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: Purchase
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 9 out of 10

Two middle-class families meet to spend New Year together in a rambling country home, the chaotic squealing of their many children turning to something more sinister as a mysterious illness turns them into crazed killers. That's about the size of "The Children", but luckily this is a film that amounts to much more than the sum of its parts, devastating in its simplicity.

It is such a stripped-down affair that the explanation for the illness infecting the children is limited to a split-second shot of multiplying bacteria, an admirable assertion that the film isn't going to waste valuable time on boring exposition. This economical approach results in a beautifully paced and spacious movie that doesn't feel a minute too long.



What "The Children" delivers is an expert exercise in tension and suspense packaged in a beautifully shot and appreciably simple film. The excellent ending, unexpected when it comes but obvious with hindsight, is testament to the care "The Children" has been constructed with. While it may seem faint praise to laud a film for its technical expertise, it is done so well in this case and is so effective that it outshines pretty much every other horror film of 2008, reaffirming the importance of direction and acting in a genre often dominated by novelty.


***

Title: Offspring
Year: 2009
Director: Andrew van den Houten
Writer: Jack Ketchum
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: Purchase
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Offspring might look like a made-for-TV-movie from the early 90s, but man, you definitely can't do that on TV. Director Andrew van den Houten takes Jack Ketchum's cult splatter-punk novel and puts it up front - worts and all - in a refreshing take-it-or-leave it kind of way. 'Here are a pack of half naked smiling feral children eating a the intestines of a live human;'take it or leave it. Well, I decided to take it and probably enjoyed the film all the more for it.

Offsping is a film about the survivors of a feral flesh-eating clan who were thought to have been wiped out of existence years earlier. They come back to a small town and start chowing their way through the locals.



Offspring reminded me of a time when horror films were made for horror fans alone and not for consumption by the general movie going public. No style-over-substance here folks. Both elements are equally lacking in such a way that Offpsing becomes something new entirely - something oldschool and authentic.

***

Title: Seventh Moon
Year: 2009
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Writer: Eduardo Sánchez / Jamie Nash
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon: Purchase
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 7 out of 10

Seventh Moon is a one beat horror film, but at least the beat is intense from the moment it begins to the time the credits role. It comes to us from Blair Witch co-director Eduardo Sánchez and, honestly, it's good enough that if I didn't absolutely loath the way it was filmed I would have given it a better rating. It's filmed so tightly and it's so dark that it's virtually impossible to see what's happening sometimes. I would say I spent 80% of the film begging for a wide shot just to escape the claustrophobia and anxiety the film's style creates.

The film is about a honeymooning couple (played by Amy Smart and Tim Chiou) who get stranded in rual China during some sort of ghost festival. They soon find out that there is truth to the ancient Chinese myths about demons coming to earth for one night when they must spend the night fighting for their lives.



Probably the best part about Seventh Moon is the creature design. Imagine if the humanoid cave dwellers from The Descent ventured out in packs to devour humans. Yes the demons are scary, but they could have been even more scary if they were filmed differently. Too bad, because otherwise this is a fast-paced and thrilling horror film.

You might also like

avatar

kurt (8 years ago) Reply

I had no idea that THAW was now out on DVD. Oi. Must get on that. THE CHILDREN however, did very little for me.

avatar

Scott (8 years ago) Reply

The Thaw was a good film but I was hoping for a bit more from it, though. Val kilmer's character was razor thin. Just after hearing his first few lines you're going to know what happens with his character. And without revealing too much, one character has a phobia, that once it is revealed, you know exactly how he is going to progress as well. His character should be called "poorly written plot device" in the film's credits. The twist ending isn't much of a twist. All in all, a good watch but it just suffers too much from lack of originality. More often than not, you're going to say to yourself "I saw that coming".


Leave a comment